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SHGs impress Wheeler

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THE MANAGING DIRECTOR of World Bank, Mr Graeme Wheeler, interacting with members of self-help groups at Ibrahimpally village in Ranga Reddy district of Andhra Pradesh on Monday. - H. Satish
THE MANAGING DIRECTOR of World Bank, Mr Graeme Wheeler, interacting with members of self-help groups at Ibrahimpally village in Ranga Reddy district of Andhra Pradesh on Monday. - H. Satish

K.V. Kurmanath

Ibrahimpalli (Ranga Reddy Dist), Oct. 23

Mr Graeme Wheeler, Managing Director of World Bank, who oversees lending to countries going by the set priorities of the bank, was curious to know how a self-help group (SHG) decided on its lending priorities.

When he visited this remote village on Monday, members of Jeevana Jyothi SHG told Mr Wheeler that it was based on the urgency. "If one of our members is down with fever, she will get the loan first. Others seeking loan for buying buffaloes or setting up a grocery shop can wait till the next meeting," Ms Begari Kalavathi explained to Mr Wheeler in a closed-door meeting with Jeevana Jyothi members.

SMOOTH SAILING

Impressed, Mr Wheeler posed a series of questions that ranged from the kind of resistance they faced from their husbands to financial difficulties.

He even wanted to know whether the success of some women had led to friction in the village. "No," replied the members. "In fact, it raised aspiration levels of others, resulting in formation of some more groups," they said.

Before interacting with the group, Mr Wheeler had a tête-à-tête with Ms Kalavathi and her family members and listened to her success story. After joining the group in 1995, Ms Kalavathi was able to support her two sons to complete B. Ed. courses, while helping her husband augment the family income.

"Facing stiff resistance from my husband, I joined the group with a monthly saving of Rs 5. The saving component has gone up as our family income increased. We took loans up to Rs 1.5 lakh to buy buffaloes and land," she said.

`Extraordinary'

Later, Mr Wheeler addressed a gathering of women where he said the performance of SHGs in Andhra Pradesh was the best in entire Asia. "They ask what is it that makes the SHGs here a great success," he said.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated October 24, 2006)
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