Self Help Groups

The Self Help Group project started in 2012 and is operating in the wards of Sinansengwe, Sinampande, Nagangala and Nabusenga in the Zambezi Valley. The project uses rights based approach which views poverty as the denial of basic rights. The idea is that every human being has a great potential within herself. This hidden potential can be unleashed if the right environment is provided. As an individual, the poor are voiceless, powerless and vulnerable. By bringing them together as a homogenous collective, they have tremendous strength. This project seeks to bring women together in Self Help Groups to empower them and to build their capacity on skills like business management, communication, leadership and savings, loans and common fund management. Another aim of the Self Help Groups is that they come together to form Cluster Level Associations. From several Cluster Level Associations a “People’s Institution” is to be formed.The People’s Institution will be able to challenge the unjust systems and structures of society and larger issues affecting the community can be taken up and solved. Linkages are to be established with other development players and service providers and the hope is that the people involved will realise their rights and privileges and demand that their dues are met. 

Self Help Groups members meeting for a workshop.

Goals

  1. To create a strengthened enabling environment for the socio-economic vulnerable women in the Self-help Groups, through raising their level of income and living standards.
  2. To facilitate individual and community based economic benefit
  3. To strengthen the capacity of poor women, to organise themselves, to participate in decision making processes and influence policy at various levels.

Approach and target group

The practice of this project is a “Community Development” approach. The members of a community are organized to form Self Help Groups. The entire community plays a role in selecting the households among them using criteria that they develop together with a Basilwizi facilitator. 15 to 20 members from the same socio-economic background form a Self Help Group. Using this approach the community members create ownership from the beginning of the project and the Self Help Groups become a familiar project for the whole community.

Meeting together each week and a weekly saving by the members are two of the most important aspects in the process. Meeting the other members once a week gives each member an opportunity to form a new identity. The women who have thus far been voiceless and powerless leading to a sense of hopelessness, soon realize that they are no more alone. They start seeing a new meaning and purpose to life. They start sharing their problems in the group and social issues are discussed. A new relationship of trust and togetherness develops and the process of “Social development” is among the valuable outputs from Self Help Groups. The project targets around 1000 women in the wards of Sinansengwe, Sinampande, Nagangala and Nabusenga in the Zambezi Valley and the aim is to create 70 Self Help Groups. Other beneficiaries of the project are community members, local leaders and council members in the wards.

Achievements

  • The project has managed to form 71 Self Help Groups and thereby reaching the target of 70 groups within the district.
  • One Cluster level Association was formed in Sinansengwe ward.
  • Women have grasped the concept of the Self Help Groups and they are now economically empowered as most of them managed to fulfil their economic goals through venturing into individual businesses.
  • Their social capital has increased as the women are helping one another in their daily lives and in times of need.

A success story

Olivia Muleya is a mother of one child, married and she lives in Muzinda village in Sinansengwe ward. She joined the Self Help Group in her area in April 2013 from the inception of the project. Before Olivia joined the group she was living in poverty with her husband who was not working and therefore they had no source of income for the household. After being capacitated with business and management skills she realised she was not making use of her talents as a hair dresser. Olivia then borrowed 50 dollars from the group, bought hair chemicals and started a home salon where people could get their hair done. Every fortnight she would make a profit of 45 dollars.She continued with business and now she has paid back her loan and bought herself a new wardrobe, a new kitchen unit and four pots for the kitchen, three chickens, four kitchen chairs and a table. The family is now living a better life and Olivia is appealing for other women to join Self Help Groups.

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