Self Help Group Approach (SHG) is a successful instrument for combating poverty in a sustainable way. It empowers the very poor people of the communities socially and economically to live a life of dignity with their families and community. The Self Help Group (SHG) is breakthrough of changing dependency on humanitarian aid model Instead; it focuses to promote the strength and the power of the communities as well as unleashing the potential of the communities. The initiative is based on mutual support and encouraging self-reliance of the members and communities.
The SHG Approach is a rights-based approach which views poverty as the denial of rights and poverty alleviation as a process of reclaiming one’s rights. Given the multi-dimensional nature of poverty, however, the SHG Approach puts equal emphasis on the goals of economic, social and political empowerment. In order to achieve these goals, it offers a framework and guidance for establishing a ‘People’s Institution’ which provide an environment of trust and cooperation in which people come to realize they are able to help themselves to achieve the economic, social and political goals that they themselves define.
A Self Help Group is made up of 15 to 20 members from among the members identified as the poorest in the community. If there are more members a second group may be formed. The size of the group is important. If there are too few members the rate at which their savings grows will be slow.
The collective strength of the group will be limited. At the same time if the group is large, participation in the group and active involvement of all the members could be limited.
It is important for the members in a SHG to commit them to meet regularly on a weekly basis. The members decide the place of the meeting and the day / time of the meeting suitable to them. The regular meeting gives them a sense of belonging. They start sharing their lives with one another, which leads to a strong support system. The regular meeting leads them to collective action, which may be some service to themselves, to the community or even action against unfair and harmful practices in the community.