BIS #6360 DRISTI conducts FGDs & assesses 124 SHGs

by Father Mayank Parmar for BISMumbai

MumbaiSalesians' DRISTI [Don Bosco Rural Integrated Social Training Institute] Kapadwanj conducted FGDs [Focus Group Discussions] for 124 of its SHGs [Self Help Groups], from 01 May- 17 June 2021, as part of the Jesuit Alboan Spanish Province-funded Project "Capacity-Strengthening of 15 Women Leaders to Ensure Sustainability of 150 SHGs and Increase Income Source of 100 Households of Kapadawanj Block for a Better Dignified Life," in collaboration with the Gujarat Jesuit Province PDO {Planning and Development Office].

The FGDs were part of the assessment process animated by the STEP Foundation. The STEP team - Vikas Parmar, Dilip Shrimali, Vijay Parmar and Kusum Parmar- worked in tandem with the DRISTI staff , throughout May-June 2021, overcoming the COVID-19 second-wave surge. STEP Team Leader-Vikas Parmar presented the assessment findings to the DRISTI staff and KDBS [Kapadwanj Don Bosco Society] management on 17 June 2021.

DRISTI is engaged in women empowerment through its 142 SHGs in the Kapadwanj Block, by way of mobilisation, animation and mentoring. In order to offset the dependancy of the SHGs on DRISTI, and to ensure self-reliant sustainability of each of the SHGs, this 'project' envisions training of 15 identified SHG leaders who will coordinate 10 SHGs each. Their main task is to visit each of their respective SHGs, manage banking relations and ensure regularity of savings, credit, loan-recovery and record-keeping.

The assessment methodology employed was through FGDs and observation, following which the assessment report indicates that most of the SHGs are regular, sincere, dedicated and follow the SHG Panch Sutra. The assessment report indicates pointers for DRISTI staff:

  1. SHGs are to be further strengthened, with DRISTI staff presence at meetings, till the SHGs are self-reliant,

  2. Address illiteracy and account-management/book-keeping through traing-sessions,

  3. Enhance leadership-skill to handle certain difficult affairs; especially in taking tough decisions,

  4. Meeting-sites in rotation will be beneficial,

  5. Periodic trainings for leadership, decision-making, book-keeping, conflict-resolution, and the like..The overall assessment states that "except for a few SHGs that will require hand-holding, to become self-reliant, due to illiteracy, and loan-recovery, there is a positive impact on women through the DRISTI SHGs."

DRISTI has already initiated preparation of training materials as indicated in the report, for SHGs leaders with hand-holding mentoring to the SHGs. DRISTI hopes to have all its SHGs self-reliant, self-sustainable and independent by May 2022.