Between 2000 and 2012 Blossom helped nurture women’s self-help groups (SHG) in partnership with the Tamil Nadu Women’s Development Corporation Ltd, Chennai, as part of Mahalir Thittam. The project ensured rural women’s social and economical prosperity by facilitating the creation of their own revenue streams. One major difficulty faced by women is gaining access to and control of their own money. In order to help them tackle this problem, the project team organised women into SHGs and provided them with Animator & Representative (A&R) training, Entrepreneur Development Programme (EDP) training and Vocational Training Programme (VTP); to provided them with the skills that would ensure their financial independence.
In the 11 years the project ran, 944 SHGs with a combined membership of 14,846, were nurtured. Between them they managed to save US$204,493 and dispersed $1,283,178 in loans.
The goal of ROSE was to reinforce and strengthen the economic development undertaken in the Poomalai Women’s Collective. It helped people who had benefitted from a Microcredit project in Poomalai to establish a sustainable business. The two principles used to establish these businesses were fair trade and rural marketing.
The rural marketing division worked under the principle of Urban to Rural (U2R). This is where household needs would be secured at fair prices for the local people in remote areas. ROSE searched for leaders in the local markets who were willing to train the women to become rural agents. These newly trained female rural leaders supported the local people in making their projects financially sustainable.
The ROSE fair trading division was the active marketing link between Poomalai and potential buyers. Self-help groups raised awareness about the amenities available for sale. Products such as phenoyl, handbags and fabrics were promoted. ROSE trained 96 rural agents and gained insight that social entrepreneurship is a key economic strategy in the communities.
Goats for Gains is an economic empowerment programme that started in 2014 and is aimed at uplifting both past and present TB patients.
In the initial stage fifty applicants were selected and brought to Blossom Farm where they received first-hand training of practical skills and knowledge of goat rearing.
Each applicant was then given two female goats which they would take home and mate with goats from near their homes. The recipients receive monthly follow-ups with Community Organisers from Blossom who ensure the wellbeing of the goats and monitor the effects of the project.
To ensure the sustainability of the project recipients are asked to return two six-month-old kids, of any sex, to Blossom so that we can continue to have enough goats to give to newly identified recipients.
Goats for gain
In order to provide the community with financial education and access to funds, Blossom created Poomalai Women’s Collective, an umbrella federation of women’s Self-Help Groups (SHG).
Poomalai’s micro-credit projects help impoverished rural and urban women gain access to small loans to invest in an income generating activity. Weekly meetings are organised and members bring in their savings of, on average, Rs. 25 per week. These savings are deposited into the bank and then divided up as loans to the members.
After operating for six months, and if certain requirements are met, the SHGs become eligible to apply for a loan and then lend the funds to their most needy members. Blossom holds a managerial role in securing bulk loans for Poomalai from banks and corporations
When women accumulate enough capital through the microfinance project, Rural Opportunity for Social Emancipation for Women (ROSE) helps them establish a sustainable business.