How to Form a Women's Self Help Group in South Asia

Four Parts:Motivating the women to joinChoosing a purpose for the SHGAdministrative tasks for the SHGUsing the SHG as a women's savings group

Forming a women's self-help group in South Asia can be a source of support, group savings and information sharing within your local neighbourhood. This community-based self-help organisation can assist women to start their own businesses and earn a decent living. This article provides some suggestions on how to form your own.

Part 1
Motivating the women to join

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    Encourage women in your local area to form into a self-help group (SHG). Mobilize them by explaining the benefits that they'd receive from joining together for the sake of advocacy, information sharing and pooling resources together. You can use story-telling and sayings to help them to understand the benefit of coming together as a group, especially for poor and weaker persons in society who don't often have a voice.
    • Tell them well-known parables about strength together, such as the story about the four cows and the lion.
    • Motivate them by saying that "One thread can't tie an elephant but one rope made of threads can".
    • Tell them that "for one person alone it is difficult to fight a problem, but it will be easier as a group to fight a common problem such as poverty".

Part 2
Choosing a purpose for the SHG

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    Explain how the SHG is meant to work. It is up to you what the group should have as its goals but here are some ideas:
    • Working as a bank for local women to start businesses or take out loans. (This aspect is discussed below.)
    • Campaigning against a law, for a law change or for the development of a law.
    • Campaigning for local improvements, such as schools, parks or safe areas for women and children.
    • Build on successful examples of SHG models in such countries as India and Bangladesh.

Part 3
Administrative tasks for the SHG

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    Name the SHG. Ask the members to name their SHG on their own. Names that motivate SHG members will be a good selection. Encourage them towards coming up with this during a meeting.
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    Put in place a strict bookkeeping in order to ensure accountability and transparency to the members.
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    Fix meeting dates. Meet at least once every two weeks or weekly.

Part 4
Using the SHG as a women's savings group

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    Motivate the women who have joined the SHG to save a fixed amount of money every week or 15 days. Group members themselves should fix the amount according to what they can each afford.
    • SHG savings meetings (weekly or 15 days) can be conducted at SHG members' houses. It helps all the SHG members to know each other better and to understand their economical conditions.
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    Fix the interest rate on inter-lending with all the SHG members' consent. Interest will be an important form of income for the SHG.
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    Rotate responsibilities for bookkeeping. SHG books and the money in hand should be rotated among the members after every meeting.
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    Open an account for the SHG. After 6 to 7 months, open a bank account in the SHG's name in order to enjoy loan benefits provided by government (if relevant in your country).
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    Make use of the savings. SHG members can use their savings to start a business. The earnings should be equally shared among the members.


  • Read some articles regarding how self-help groups can be used as a weapon to eradicate poverty.
  • Prior preparation is needed before going to talk to people. Rehearse once what you're going to talk about and how you can motivate people to form themselves into a group.
  • Speaking in people's own language makes people feel comfortable and helps to build rapport with them quickly. It's not a limitation if you don't know the people's language; but you should speak to people in a language they understand clearly and can communicate.
  • Know about the community you are going to speak to––their habits, culture, livelihoods etc. It will help in building a good rapport and trust.
  • Be confident and communicate clearly. You should show a dream and vision (choose ones that are possible) that help the community to work towards eradicating their problems.
  • Discuss with personnel who are working in the Rural Development sector to improve your knowledge and gain more information about forming an SHG. Collect information, based on asking the question: "were there any initiatives like this in past?".

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Categories: Leadership and Mentoring | Women’s Health