Beginning in 2005 Blossom worked within an Indian government program designed to create and empower Self-Help Groups (SHGs). The SHGs had leadership, training, bank accounts, and internal accounts. Close to 1200 SHGs were created, with 15-20 people, almost entirely women, per group. Blossom named this effort ‘Poomalai’, or garland of many blossoms.
Each member was required to deposit saved money through the SHGs. Rs. 50/- to Rs.100/- per month for each member was being saved at the group. Once the amount was fixed every member was bound to save as per the decision of the group. In total over 4.5 crore was saved by SHG members. This resulted in funds available for lending, and over 6.1 crore was lent from the internal savings (repaid loans were revolved into additional loans, so that the total lent over the years of the program was greater than the amount saved). In addition, 5.5 crore of bank funds were borrowed by the SHGs and lent out to members.
The programme soon became a model with good group norms, systems and practices, which attracted the Government to replicate the same in other areas. After a decade loan repayment is over 98%, a record that compares very favorably with international standards.
The loans were provided through the SHGs for a variety of purposes, including goat rearing, dairy farms, poultry raising, operations of small shops, food vendors, school costs and health care. The normal loan size was between Rs.5000/- and Rs.15000/- with repayment generally on monthly basis.
The Indian government ended its program support in 2009. Still, an estimated 400 SHGs are still
active and in operation. These groups still are a mechanism for individual savings and loans provided to members from these savings.
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