Chris' Original Blogbeque

A fresh, vinegar-based examination of life

Sreema Mahila Samity

Posted by Chris on October 15, 2007

standing outside SMS main buildingI probably cannot blog on every NGO I visit, at least not at last week’s pace—I’m already behind by three. But I do want to talk about my Thursday trip in two posts and perhaps summarize my Saturday trip to 2 NGOs in one.

Sreema Mahila Samity started formal Micro-finance/Self-Help-Group work in 2000. It is located in the district of Nadia. All I know was that we went in some direction East and perhaps North of the city for a couple hours.

Its mission is the “Holistic Development of rural community with focus on poor women” and it is one place is not just holistic-focused in name only. Its SHG-delivered activities include, but are not limited to: Health, Literacy, Disaster preparedness, Civil & Community Welfare, free legal aid, Nature protection and pollution control, and movements against social injustice and gender discrimination.

Its offices are very cool. They are lined with pictures of past work and artwork that is used for community education. The disaster preparedness activities numbered in the 1000s, with over 100,000 who had been affected. the very impressive disaster preparedness office

The Child Line, a nationwide India effort in 73 cities, also has an office at the SMS. 24×7 people can call about missing and abused kids, or for medical assistance needs.

Over 7000 SHGs have been formed by SMS. 6000 of them are engaging in microfinance. The members save and take internal loans and SMS also offers loans if larger amounts are needed. The internal lending rate is 2% a month and SMS lends to them at 20%. The proper comparison is with local moneylenders who expect a 60-120% return; these people are not attractive customers to the banks.

The staff was very nice to us, especially an older gentleman who talked to us about SMS for about an hour, showed us around the office, and then led us out to the field to visit some SHGs. I will talk about the experience of sitting with an SHG next.

community education art depicting forms of gender discrimination


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