Self Help Groups – An Overview

Self – Help is the informal group of people who come together to address their common problem find ways to improve their living conditions. While self-help might apply the focus on the individuals, one important characteristic of a self-help group is the idea of mutual support, people helping each other. 


Self Help groups stick to the notion “SELF HELP” to encourage self-dependence. It can be defined as a self-governed, peer-controlled information group of people with similar socio – economic background and having a desire to collectively perform common purpose.


The main objective of the SHG.

  • To organize the women of rural areas   into small groups to pool in their savings. 
  • To provide collateral free loans to the teams decided by the groups.
  • To work as collateral guarantee system for members to who purpose to borrow from the   organizations. 
  • To make the people self – dependent by making them earn by their activities.
  • To secure them from financial, technical and moral strengths.


  1. Size of SHGs
  • The ideal size of SHGs is 10 to 20 members. There is no hard and first rule as regards to the membership.
  • Legally it is required that the informal group should not be more than 20 people.
  • This groups need not to be registered. 
  1. Membership
  • Only one person from one family can join the SHGs.
  • The group normally consists of either only men or only women. Mixed groups are not preferred because of free and frank decisions, opening of personal problems.
  • Women’s groups are generally good in savings.
  • Members should be between the age group of 21 -60 years.
  • Members should be homogeneous (mean should have the same social and financial background).

The basic function of SHGs is to be a well – managed Self-Help Group. The member should obtain the rules & regulations that must be followed by the members. 

1. Meeting: 

  • The group should have regular meetings, the meeting should be once a month or week which helps them to understand their problem.
  • Compulsory Attendance – During the meeting the members of the group are supposed to be present in the meeting which helps them to interact with the leaders and helps them to understand their problems. The attendance Every member present should make them self freely to express their view.

2. Saving:

  • Member’s income during the course of business should be deposited by all the members in the meeting itself. This will help to inculcate the habit of regular savings. By depositing savings in the meetings before all members will create confidence among each other.
  • No interest will be paid to the members for their money with the group
  • The members will not be encouraged to adjust their savings amount again; their loan due to the Group. Only at extreme circumstances the Group shall consider to adjust.

3. Keeping of Accounts:

  • Simple and clear books of accounts for all transactions to be maintained
  • If no member is able to maintain the books, the SHG may take outsider help for the purpose. Because that is the most vital task before the group


  • It increases the income, improves standard of living, and status in society.
  • Financial independence leads to self-employment, improves the literacy level, better health care and better family planning.
  • The SHGs play a crucial role in overcoming social evils likes; alcoholism, drug addiction, gambling etc.  
  • Women SHGs make their members independent from social constraints and allow them to make independent decisions. They can even actively participate in the gram sabha.
  • SHGs can actively participate in the aspects of local governance. This would mean the inclusion of weaker and marginalized sections of the society in the local governance.
  • It allows for micro-level entrepreneurship within the rural society and reduces too much dependence on agriculture.

The members of the SHGs are encouraged to open savings accounts in banks. This assures improved living conditions, increased spending on education, health, etc.

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