It was a 15,000-strong gathering of members with our AmritaSREE Self Help Group (SHG) initiative. The women received seed capital and community support to find new ways to earn livelihoods. The mission of AmritaSREE SHG is to create proactive solutions for the women to start their own businesses or find new employment. Ultimately, the goal is for them to achieve self-reliance.
Mr. R. Ramachandran is a current member of Kerala’s Legislative Assembly (Karunagappally), and Mr. T.N. Prathapan is a former member. Together, they inaugurated the function and distributed seed money to the women present.
“We, the people of Kollam and Vallikkavu, take pride in being the dwellers of this land that gave birth to Amma, Mata Amritanandamayi--the driving force behind the AmritaSREE movement,” said Ramachandran. “The AmritaSREE movement of SHGs seeks to empower our sisters, who historically have been prevented from coming forward in society, by making them self-reliant.”
Swamini Krishnamrita Prana is one of Amma’s senior disciples. She, along with other distinguished guests, began the ceremony with the traditional lighting of an oil lamp. We also gave the women saris as gifts for their courage and self-confidence to take part in this action to improve their lives.
Started in 2005, AmritaSREE SHG is aimed at empowering women to explore and engage in professions other than farming and fishing. The goal is to alleviate their families’ dependency on trades which are now often at the mercy of increasingly unpredictable weather patterns. More than 200,000 women throughout India are currently participating and have started more than 13,000 SHGs.
SHGs form when 10 to 20 women come together as members, with each one giving a small fee to the SHG’s bank account every month. Through the gathered funds, they work together to start small businesses from which they earn for their families.
After investing the capital, the women create economically viable cottage industries such as making soap, snacks, packing curry powder and tailoring clothes. They also facilitate loans to individual members to promote community growth, sparing them the indignity of bank refusals and the unscrupulous methods of loan sharks.
As a mentor, we not only provide the beneficiaries with technical and economic assistance, but also facilitate vocational training for the women. This is done in collaboration with national and international agencies of the United Nations.