This article discusses an innovative microfinance programme designed to reach the extremely poor people in remote rural areas in Haldikund Panchayat of the Koraput district of Southern Orissa in India.
CYSD (Centre for Youth and Social Development) methodology promotes and supports the development of Self-Help Groups (SHGs), made up of small groups of poor women who are struggling at the community level, both to move out of poverty and deprivation, and also to redefine and reshape their lives. In the context of a complex situation of severe geographic, social, economic and political exclusion and poverty, the article argues that the provision of finance alone is a necessary, but not a sufficient strategy for achieving sustainable poverty impacts.
The article discusses the role of SHGs in CYSD’s philosophy and approach, showing how the nonfinancial aspects of poverty, such as vulnerability, dependency and powerlessness can be tackled through the vehicle of the group. The article widens the concept of poverty to include gendered inequality and other types of marginalisation, providing empirical examples of how a microfinance SHG model, in this particular context, is effective in challenging some of these social imbalances. Finally, it discusses the processes CYSD encountered in establishing the SHGs for the poorest groups, and other design decisions made in the light of the types of poverty the programme aims to address.
This article comes from the IDS Bulletin 34.4 (2003) Institutionalising Impact Monitoring and Assessment of Microfinance: Experiences from the Philippines