Reach has a cumulative organizational experience of working across the length and breadth of the livelihoods vertical, be it agro-based value chain or making markets work for poor or livelihood education par se. In the current year, Reach focused its efforts in graduating the SHGs or farmers clubs or the groups of small farmers to the second tier of livelihood development, where they are exposed to enterprise developments, business education and slowly develop as collectives say activity cluster or geographical clusters or producer groups.

In Murshidabad, Reach went beyond the traditional SHG bank linkage approach and imparted enterprise education to the matured SHGs, nurturing and mentoring them to initiate their own small businesses at individual or group mode. Even in difficult terrains of Nagaland and Mizoram, Reach in collaboration with ICCO, promoted small farmers to practice piggery by adopting scientific management practices. Reach believes that agriculture being the mainstay for India, there is need to take more collective actions and initiatives for improving the agro-based value chain across the country to improve the income status of rural communities, solely depending on agriculture and allied sources for their livelihoods.

Details of Livelihood Intervention

Bringing 400 SHGs under the fold of “Banking for the Poor” and linking them with Entrepreneurship Development Programmes

Donor: NABARD Regional Office West Bengal

Type of Grant: Project Grant

Focus Area: Murshidabad, West Bengal (Raghunathganj 1 & 2 blocks)

Sustained support from NABARD RO West Bengal enabled Reach India to gradually deepen it’s reach out and impacts at Raghunathganj Block of Murshidabad. Reach started with an action research project in 2012 and slowly have been able to form 426 SHGs, linked with savings account facilities. Reach invested time, manpower and resources to build the capacities of poor women and enabled them to form SHGs. Till date, only 242 of these groups are linked with credit facilities. Despite the challenges such as timely disbursement of funds, retaining a district level team, unavailability of credit for the SHGs on time, Reach continued its mission and made all efforts to reach out to its last mile target audience.

It was in this year; we decided to graduate the SHGs from the level of formation to maturity, by identifying mature SHGs, imparting micro-enterprise trainings to them and also enabled them to engage in small or family level business on individual basis or as group mode. At this phase, the extended support from NABARD in form of MEDP trainings enabled us to move further in our journey. NABARD granted four MEDP trainings for 30 mature SHG members on food processing and beautician courses. Out of the total 124 trained women, few had successfully established their own businesses. Through a continuous participatory process and constant dialogues with the trained group members, Reach motivated the participants to contribute Rs. 500 individually per month and create a livelihood fund that helped them to initiate a “Guava Jelly and Tomato Sauce” production unit, which has local market demands. The beneficiaries are producing quality outputs and directly supplying to their trainer, who links them to the market trader, thus assisting them to earn Rs. 20 profit margin over their production prices. Initially producing in medium quantity, they are easily selling off their volumes to the trainer and gaining decent incomes. Out of the the women trained in beautician courses, 7 have been capacitated to open their parlours earning weekly pay-offs in the range of Rs. 1000-1200.

Promoting inclusive agro-livestock based value chain models in the North East

Donor: ICCo cooperation, Netherlands

Type of Grant: Project Grant

Focus Area: Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura

With technical and financial support from ICCo Corporation, Netherlands Reach demonstrated a pilot project in the North East. The project envisaged on building a special value chain cell including technical experts on agriculture and livestock within the North East Livelihood Promotion Society that will provide knowledge and advisory support to its State Project Monitoring Unit (SPMU) and District Project Monitoring Unit (DPMU) in implementing scalable value chain approaches. The collaboration of Reach, ICCO and NELPS leveraged upon global experiences of ICCo in pro-poor development, market for the poor; social engineering processes of Reach and institutionalized the learnings in the NERLP implementation model.

Based on a thorough study of the present livelihood options, and consultation workshops with thematic livelkihood experts, eight (8) interventions were identified for the State of Nagaland and Mizoram, of which piggery was implemented initially.

The project addressed the critical gaps in the value chain by increasing availability of quality compound pig feed locally at reasonable prices, reaching out to the remotest corners of districts through sustained supply chain system involving SHGs, developing handbooks on scientific piggery management practices for small and marginal land holders, purchase of low cost supply equipments and ensuring better storage facilities for keeping veterinary medicines, injections at Peren and Aizwal. The value chain cell has also initiated the preliminary dialogue with the local administration to make available lands for setting up modern slaughter houses and retail outlets, to sell “Hygienic Pork” and create its brand name for the Peren pilot unit.

The NELPS supported value chain cell and NRC Pig (ICAR) has entered into a partnership agreement, to provide necessary support in establishing a slaughter house and retail outlet in Nagaland. 100 small farmers are identified from each of the two states who will be trained in piggery farm management practices, to scale up the scientific pig farming intervention in Nagaland and Mizoram. New value chain activities have been commenced in Sikkim and Tripura which include detailed study of Ginger, Dairy and Fisheries sub-sector.

Weaver Development and Peace Resolution Project

Reach India partnered with ICCO (Interchurch Organisation for development corporation) Netherlands to implement an inclusive livestock and agri-based value chain project in four states of North East India- Sikkim, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura. The project leverages on the human resource and work of North East Livelihood Promotion Society (a government organisation implementing the North East Rural Livelihood Project supported by World Bank and Ministry of DONER) and imparts training to the district level officials on value chain approach. A Regional Project Management Unit (RPMU) known as Value Chain Cell have been constituted at NELPS State office, Assam to impart capacity building and handholding support to the four states (Sikkim, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura) on identification of livelihood activities, value addition and strengthening the entire value chain approaches. ICCO (Interchurch Organisation for development corporation) is providing technical support in the areas of developing inclusive value chains. Studies were conducted across Nagaland, Tripura and Mizoram to identify piggery as one of the subsectors in the value chain cycle. Regional level workshops were conducted to consolidate the findings and deliberate on the intervention plans. The value chain cell is to provide end to end solutions for each of the identified sub sectors and subsequently develop intervention plans starting from production to marketing of the end produce. The intervention will thus lead to creation of livelihood, jobs for the rural communities. World Bank and NELPS have plans to spread this approach by restructuring their umbella programme, adding Value Chain and Livelihood scaling as one of their major  programme delivery component. This will ensure further investments for community development through value chain approaches. Based on the understanding and experience , there are plans to develop five such value chains in recent future i.e  dairy in Sikkim, Tripura; locally grown ginger in Sikkim, Nagaland, Mizoram; large cardamom in Sikkim; fishery in Tripura and piggery in Nagaland, Mizoram. Collectively the value chain projects will reach to  4500 families improving their livelihood.

In Goalpara district of Assam, the Organisation has worked with women weavers and facilitated formation of their producers’ collective along with other partners. The project is supported by ICCO (Interchurch Organisation for development cooperation) Netherlands. Grameen Sahara is the principal recipient of the fund and implementor for this programme. Reach India and Assam Mahila Samata Society are providing technical support to the project. The project aims to facilitate peace building process in the communities through strengthening livelihood of the weavers and spinners. The project organised 800 women into cluster of weavers (500 women weavers) and spinners (300 women spinners) to whom raw materials  are being supplied. The project encompasses activities such as identifying different local motifs/designs, linking groups with market, providing training on design development, concept seeding to formulate a producer company, understanding and management of producers company, capacity building of the office bearers of collectives on organisational development and peace building processes. Nine  peace groups have been formed involving the religious leaders and community members covering nine Gram panchayats of Goalpara District. Mostly the weavers are traditional artists from backward and conflict affected areas belonging to tribes like Garo, Boro, Hajong, Konch, Rabha etc. The challenge for Reach was to federate them at one cluster level and build their capacities in order to deliver market relevant products. Two federations- Prakshalika (the spinners federation) with  active membership of 300 spinners and Tungchur (the weavers federation)with  active membership of 500 weavers have been formed which are under process to be registered further as a producers collective.

SHG bank linkage programme supported by Nabard
imageReach India is implementing SHG bank Linkage programme focusing on formation, nurturing and strengthening of women SHGs.It is implemented  in Raghunathganj 1&2 blocks of Murshidabad, West Bengal. Reach has formed 426 SHGs, linked them with saving facility at scheduled commercial banks. Till date 157 SHGs have received credit facility from the scheduled nationalised banks. As a part of the project activity, A meeting of the project implemention & monitoring committee was  held at the office of the Reach India, Raghunathganj, Murshidabad on 13th November 2014.  DDM of Murshidabad district, representative from Reach India Trust and bank officials from BGVB, Dena Bank, SBI, UCO etc. were present. The house discussed on different issues including expediting the process of credit linkage, where   most of the groups faced difficulties and gradually losing their interests. DDM advised all the bank representatives to extend credit linkage facilities to the SHGs.

Male members of the family are mainly engaged in masonry and agriculture. Large number of male population are  residing and working as a migrant labour outside the state. About 85% to 90% of the women are engaged in Bidi rolling and agro based work. Bidi rolling is a hazardous work,  which leads to different types of respiratory diseases  among the women  workers, who have long term engagement in the process. Observing the scenario, Reach has explored different opportunities to provide alternative livelihood options to the women. Reach  implemented four(4) micro enterprise development programmes  of NABARD . It covered 120 women from the old and experienced SHGs. They are to be trained on different trades like beautician and food processing during the year 2014-15.

Weaver Development and Peace Resolution Project

Supported by ICCo India Trust and in a tripartite partnership of Grameen Sahara, Assam Mahila Samata Samity and Reach India, this is a project with focus in Goalpara district of Assam aiming at development of weaver groups enhancing their skills through trainings, introducing new designs, conducting exposure to fairs, aggregating them into producers group and gradually forming Peace Corps or Shanti Dals helping in peace building and conflict resolution. The project is an innovative action research where Reach experiments its expertise in the area of specific livelihoods slowly adding value to the weaving sector and linking them with the present value chains.

SHG Bank Linkage Project at Murshidabad, West Bengal

Since last 3 years Reach is implementing an action research project on formation, nurturing and strengthening of 400 women SHGs in two blocks namely Raghunathganj 1 & 2 of Jangipur, Murshidabad, West Bengal under the support of NABARD West Bengal. Till date Reach has formed 426 SHGs linked with savings facility at Scheduled Commercial Banks out of which 88 groups have access to credit facility, with each group accessing 1 lakh rupees as credit facility. Reach has created a cadre of 16 community resource person, two block supervisors and one service centre manager who currently forms the team and look after the day to day running of the projects ranging from group meeting, training, opening of bank facilities to credit linkage, grading etc. Most of these groups are formed of community women who are involved in agrarian works so Reach will gradually impart trainings on micro enterprise promotion and allied income generation activities enhancing their livelihoods. Through this action research project, Reach tests its different training modules in the control environment and capture the learnings which again is incorporated in the module to refine and fine tune it.

Selai School Project

USHA International Ltd has supported Reach in promoting Selai Schools across entire North Eastern States including Sikkim, West Bengal and Odisha where women entrepreneurs are motivated, skill enhanced and promoted to run Selai Schools on a peer to peer learning mode fulfilling three objectives:

  • Promote Selai Schools at their villages and engage in tailoring as their livelihood options earning incremental income
  • Spread the education at their vicinity through imparting fee based training to other non trained women on tailoring and slowly converting them into Selai Schools
  • Repair or provide maintenance support for machines or other tailors present in the village

The success of the project merely resides on the proper identification of SHPI partners and local women entrepreneurs which is again a limitation in true sense in the eastern and north eastern parts of India. In this regard, Reach plans to move ahead with a consolidation plan by opting for those geographies where the potential is high and the beneficiaries are committed and motivated to run the School and graduate to the next phase, where Producers Group may be formed.

Self Help Group Bank Linkage Project at Murshidabad, supported by NABARD
Reach India with support from NABARD Regional Office, West Bengal is implementing the SHG Bank Linkage program to form 400 credit linked women SHGs. The project provides handholding and mentoring support through community resource persons to SHGs to evolve as sustainable enterprises.

USHA International
Reach India in partnership with Usha International is implementing the Silai School Project in 10 states of India including all the 8 North Eastern States Assam and Odisha and West Bengal with a current pool of 425 schools. The major objectives of the project are:

  • Establish Selai School in a peer to peer learning mode
  • Promote entrepreneurship among rural women to run Selai schools and undertake job work

1

USHA SILAI School Project

During last year Reach India partnered with USHA International to set up 120 Silai School in the 12 districts of Assam, Odisha & West Bengal.  In each of the districts one block was selected and 10 women entrepreneurs were identified by local NGO partners. Women have been provided a seven days training and one USHA sewing machine each.The woman would be given a sewing machine, the know-how of stitching and maintenance of sewing machine. The woman in turn would have to teach at least 20 students in span of 1 year. The women would also be taught how to service the machines and repair minor problems. The women can use these skills to earn their livelihood and become financially independent.

Therefore the women would have three sources of earning:

  1. Income from teaching sewing
  2. Income from stitching
  3. Income from servicing the sewing machine of others

3&4

 (Halima Dua with Usha Silai Machine, Village Kushmore, Berhampur, Murshidabad)

(Halima Dua with Usha Silai Machine, Village Kushmore, Berhampur, Murshidabad)

During the first six months of implementation of the project we have observed that on an average each Silai school is earning an income of Rs. 650/- per month in Assam and Odisha. However, income by each women in West Bengal in first two months were Rs. 350/- on an average.

SHG Formation and Bank Linkage:

With support from NABARD Regional Office, West Bengal started implementing an action research project on SHG formation & Bank Linkage program at Murshidabad district in West Bengal from March-2012. The primary objective of the project is to form and credit link 400 women SHGs in Raghunathganj I and Raghunathganj II blocks. The larger objective of this action research project is to demonstrate formation of quality SHGs and integration of financial and non-financial activities as a part of Reach India’s larger capacity building effort.

 (Field Area: Raghunathganj I, II in Murshidabab district of West Bengal)

(Field Area: Raghunathganj I, II in Murshidabab district of West Bengal)

This action research project will also provide an opportunity to be a learning and resource center for primary and secondary stakeholders of the SHG movement. We will also work towards evidence building for promotion of and sustainability of quality self-help groups.

(SHG Members after getting their bank pass books, and register for credit links in Murshidabad West Bengal)

(SHG Members after getting their bank pass books, and register for credit links in Murshidabad West Bengal)

Reach India has set up a service centre at Murshidabad managed by a service Centre Manager along with two block supervisors and 16 field animators who will be involved with  this project. Apart from forming quality SHG’s and emphasis on mobilization of savings by SHG members efforts will be made to  see that each women member  is individually able to access credit from bank in due course of time apart from groups credit linkage.

Reach India has designed this programme based on key learning from several best practices of the country in last decade on “Self-Help” approach. The other key features of this action research project is to provide leadership development training to SHG group leaders, integration of health and livelihood inputs to SHG members and ensure that after the project period SHG’s are sustainable .Till end of March, 2012 50 SHG’s were formed.

Livelihood Education
Four Steps to Better Business

SHG members who have taken loans from banks or from group funds are currently participating in a business activity.  There are a wide range of activities, with over half of the members being involved in selling produce like rice and other grocery. Reach India has developed and delivered a training module, Four Steps to Better Business for SHG members. Through these trainings women learn how to start their own business, improve them and take advantage of new business opportunities.

Under livelihood education Reach India organized 5 trainings covering 80 participants from 40 organizations. The 80 field animators in turn provided training to 655 SHGs, with a total membership of 7200 women