Monday, December 19, 2011

Community Women Fight to Open Bank Accounts!

Four months back, RGMVP started work in two  villages of Maharajganj, namely, Patal Kunwie and Pipariya Karana Jahan. At presently, 17 women's Self Help Groups have been formed, 10 in Patal Kunwie and 7 in Piparya Karan Jahan. The groups are well disciplined, do their meetings regularly, have good savings and have initiated many activities in the last few months. Day by day, each member is becoming more and more active. 
However, the major obstacle for the group has been the bank. The village comes under the State Bank of India, Ghughali. Despite trying our best to open bank accounts for these groups, our project staff in Gorakhpur remained unsuccessful. In a meeting organized by NABARD in Ghughali, we called the Branch Manager of the particular bank, but he did not come. Our Regional Programme Manager Mr. Pankaj, along with NABARD officials visited the Branch. The bank accepted the NABARD official's request and gave a date to have the accounts opened. However, on arrival on that date, he refused to open the accounts, challenging the project staff to go complain to whoever they want!

On 11 and 12th November, there was a two day Bank Sakhi (community members who get trained on bank related issues like account opening, etc.) training, including bank sakhis from this particular village. At the next Village Organization meeting, the discussion was on how to open their bank accounts
On 24th November, we heard that 40 SHGs member lead by Bank Sakhi Mrs.Vindya Wasini Devi and Mrs. Neelam from the RGMVP team went to the bank. There they argued with the Branch Manager and within an hour he agreed! The very next day, on 25th November, he sent his Field Officer to see the Self Help Group in the village. After assessing the groups, the Field Officer invited the women to come to the branch and allotted every Friday to open accounts. Till date, 7 groups have completed the paper formalities and 3 accounts have been open! The procedure has now become smoother for other women!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Call for Applications!

Rajiv Gandhi Mahila Vikas Pariyojana
Call for Applications
November 2011

Rajiv Gandhi Mahila Vikas Pariyojana (RGMVP) is a rights-based organization that works for poverty reduction, women’s empowerment and rural development. With the belief that the poor have a strong desire and innate ability to come out of poverty, RGMVP organizes poor rural women into self-sustaining community institutions in the form of micro-credit linked self-help groups and their federations, creating social platforms to address issues of healthcare, financial inclusion, livelihoods and education, while also linking them to existing state and non-state structures and resources, like the MNREGA and NRHM. Based out of Raebareli, RGMVP has, till date, reached out to over 400,000 poor households in 109 blocks of 34 districts in the most backward regions of Uttar Pradesh.

Having successfully developed a holistic, cost-effective and scalable model for poverty reduction, we are now looking to expand our programme and double our outreach in 2012! We are thus looking for passionate, committed, hard-working and dedicated individuals to join us as we take our work forward and actively participate in the change that RGMVP wishes to bring about!

We are specifically looking for Programme Managers for HR, Finance, MLE, Health, Communications and Scale-up Operations, Regional Programme Managers and a Programme Director to manage the overall programme. All positions will be based out of Raebareli for now. Please find attached a detailed description of the job specifications and responsibilities. 

If you are interested in applying for any of the following positions, please email your CV to, or address it to Rajiv Gandhi Mahila Vikas Pariyojana, 619, Kanpur Road, Rana Nagar, Raebareli 229001, Uttar Pradesh, along with a short description (not more than 500 words) on why you think you are suited for the job, by 1st January, 2012.

For queries or more about RGMVP, please visit our Website, Facebook and Twitter pages.


Programme Director
Job Responsibilities:
- Providing strategic vision and direction to the programme
- Overseeing project development and focus
- Expansion of programme
- Overlooking overall implementation of programme
Job Specifications/Criteria:
- Minimum 10-15 years of experience (preferably in the area of poverty reduction and/or rural development)
- Comprehensive understanding of development issues
- Demonstrated ability to manage large scale development projects
- Excellent leadership and teaming skills, with ability to think strategically and programmatically
- Excellent negotiating and communication skills, in positions requiring diplomacy in communicating with a
broad and diverse audience
Salary: Negotiable as per qualifications and experience

Human Resource Manager
Job Responsibilities:
- Providing vision and building capacity within the HR function
- Developing talent to maximize effort and contribution; and providing recognition and/or redirection, as
- Provide leadership and sponsorship for core foundation/HR projects on an on-going
- Periodic evaluation of employee growth and development
Job Specifications/Criteria:
- Minimum 10 years of professional experience, with proven mastery of HR competencies at the strategic level
and in large development projects.
- Demonstrated success at influencing, negotiating and collaborating at all levels within an organization.
- Demonstrated strong analytical, interpersonal, written, and oral communication, conflict resolution skills in
situations requiring communication with broad and diverse audiences.
- Good command over Hindi and English language
Salary: Negotiable as per qualifications and experience

Finance Manager
Job Responsibilities:
- Overlooking finances for the organization (including budgeting, accounting and audit)
- Managing international grants for the organization
Job Specifications/Criteria:
- CA/M.Com/Masters/relevant degree in Finance from a reputed institute
- 8-10 years of professional experience in accountancy in any reputed firm, company or social development
- Prior experience of working with an auditor/financial consultant and handling internationally funded projects
Salary: Negotiable as per qualifications and experience

Programme Manager (Monitoring, Learning and Evaluation)
Job Responsibilities:
- Define measurement and research priorities, including developing theories of change/logic models, developing
interim milestones and outcomes, developing learning questions, identifying key stakeholders and how they
might use measurement and identifying research/knowledge-building activities essential for strategy
Job Specifications/Criteria:
- Advanced degree in a field requiring fluency in applied research, performance measurement, statistical
methods and causal inference, or equivalent experience
- 8-10 years of professional experience in performance measurement, evaluation and applied research in large
scale development projects
- Strong analytic skills with the ability to think strategically and programmatically.
- Excellent consultative skills, especially skilled in building strong working relationships between program staff
and measurement/research experts
Salary: Negotiable as per qualifications and experience

Programme Manager (Health)
Job Responsibilities:
- Leading organization’s objective of reducing maternal mortality and infant mortality rates in Uttar Pradesh
- Overseeing health interventions of the organization and providing strategic direction to the same
- Handling grants and partnerships for the health interventions
Job Specifications/Criteria:
- Degree/diploma/specialization in public health or related field
- 8-10 years of professional experience in public health in large scale development projects
- Strong communication, inter personal and negotiating skills
Salary: Negotiable as per qualifications and experience
Programme Manager (Scale-up Operations)
Job Responsibilities:
- Providing strategic vision and direction for expansion of programme
- Fundraising and building partnerships for organization
- Securing and managing grants for the programme
Job Specifications/Criteria:
- Demonstrated ability to secure grants and raise funds
- Strong oral and written communication skills
- Minimum 5 years of professional experience working in large scale development projects
Salary: Negotiable as per qualifications and experience

Programme Officer (Communications)
Job Responsibilities:
- Managing all internal and external communications for the organization
- Responsible for overlooking documentation (case studies, films, photography, presentations, etc.) and
publications (brochures, manuals, case study books, reports, etc.)
- Responsible for managing social media (website, blog, Facebook, Twitter)
Job Specifications/Criteria:
- Minimum 3 years of experience working in this domain
- Excellent oral and written communication skills (both Hindi and English)
- Demonstrated excellent negotiating skills, in positions requiring diplomacy in communicating with a broad and
diverse audience.
- Knowledge and prior experience working with digital media like photography, films and online social media
platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Blog, etc.)
- Keen interest in advocating human rights through films and social media
- Proficiency with editing software (film and photography) preferable
Salary: Negotiable as per qualifications and experience

Regional Programme Manager
Job Responsibilities:
- Leading and overseeing all work in programme region
- Providing strategic direction for expansion of programme in the region
- Managing, motivating and monitoring field staff
- Overseeing documentation and accounts of the regional office
Job Specifications/Criteria:
- Post graduate degree/diploma in Management or relevant domain from a reputed institute
- Minimum 5 years professional experience working in development sector
- Demonstrated good leadership and management skills
- Knowledge of MS Office
Salary: Negotiable as per qualifications and experience

Monday, October 10, 2011

Unity is Strength

Sandhya was married into a conservative poor family. Bound by restrictions and the four corners of her home, she hardly stepped out of the house after her marriage. When she did, she practised purdah. She never knew what happened outside the village. She never knew what it was to have a bank account or be employed.

Sandhya’s family was going through a bad phase. Her husband was unemployed; they fell short of food at home; her mother in-law was ill. They had to take a loan from a local money lender at 10% interest to sustain the family. Days passed and her husband still couldn’t find a job. Their debt kept increasing. They were hungry and broke and soon lost the will to live.
One day, a woman in their village heard about Sandhya’s problems and told her about Self Help Groups. Sandhya decided to give it a try. The SHG women understood her problems and immediately helped her with food. A month later they helped her again with Rs.1000 which reduced her family’s debt.  Sandhya felt a little secure and confident now.  She decided to borrow Rs. 5,000 and repaid all her loans. Next, she borrowed Rs.7000 and bought a buffalo, which started giving her regular income of Rs.3000.  A few months later, she borrowed Rs.10000 and opened a grocery store in her village.
Looking back at her dark days, Sandhya feels her SHG not only helped her family financially, but also changed her attitude and approach to life. She doesn’t practice purdah anymore. She is a post bearer in her SHG and goes to the bank herself to handle her group’s accounts. She feels empowered, confident and happy. Her husband, who once restricted her freedom, now helps her with her work and listens to her! He’s grateful for the support the SHG gave them and strongly advocates the idea of building unity among rural women through the SHG system!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Burning the Midnight Oil

Several Self Help Groups prefer to do night meetings, as it's at this time of the day that women are completely free, both mentally and physically, and they can discuss their issues and problems in peace.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Premvati's Story

Premvati, from Jhansi, used to face numerous health problems due to some complications during child birth. She was always sick and suffering from pain, but couldn’t afford medication. She couldn’t work in her farm or send her child to school, as there was nobody else to take care of her.

Self-help group or SHG women in her village heard about Premvati and asked her to join one of the groups. They consoled her and helped her buy her medicines. She soon borrowed Rs. 5000/- from her SHG, which helped her undergo treatment from a good hospital. She then started participating in the SHG events actively and attended meetings in other districts as well.
She borrowed another Rs. 5000/- from her group and invested in farming to generate income. She started earning a good amount and managed to pay back all the borrowed money within a short period of time. Next, she borrowed Rs. 7000/- with which she opened a small shop in her village. Now she looks after the shop while her husband looks after the farm.
  Today, Premvati is healthy, happy, generating good income and taking care of her family. She is educating her two children from a good private school. She has been to Hyderabad twice to be trained as a Community Resource Person and helps mobilise and motivate other women to organize themselves into SHGs, so that no other woman suffers from the difficulties and problems she had to suffer from!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

From disability to ability!

Mayawati from Babina District, Jhansi, is handicapped. Though she studied till 12th standard, being physically handicapped, she never got a job. She could not do any physical work. The days were hard. Her husband was single-handedly supporting the family working as a wage labourer in a nearby town. They ate when they could afford to buy food and remained hungry when they couldn’t. Mayawati wasn’t able to contribute anything to her family. She was disheartened and felt helpless due to her inability to do anything.

One day, Mayawati was asked to join a ‘samooh’, or self-help group, by a friend of hers. She reluctantly joined, but soon found herself gaining tremendously from the group activities. The micro finance help that the SHG offered helped Mayawati a lot. She borrowed Rs.2000/- at first and purchased a sewing machine that helped her to generate income, which took care of food and her child’s education. She then borrowed Rs.10000/- and bought a buffalo, which gave her an income of about Rs.3,000-3,500 every month. She saved about Rs.25,000/- with the income generated through the buffalo.

Next, she borrowed another Rs.5,000/- from the SHG and opened a small soft-drinks business in her village. Today, she is well off. Her husband no more works as a wage labourer. He helps her with the soft-drinks business, while her son has enrolled at a good private school.

Mayawati not only benefited financially through her SHG, but also became a leader in true terms. She is the President of her SHG and she handles various other groups and related activities. She solves problems and issues that plague her village by directly visiting the block headquarters and speaking to the respective officers.

Mayawati is now an energetic, bubbly and confident woman, who doesn’t feel inferior because of her disability, but empowered with what she has achieved!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

“I got my children back!”

Mamta, from Babina Block in Jhansi, was born into a family of daily wage labourers. While her father was away for work every day, Mamta used to take the buffalos into the jungle to feed them. She used to see other children studying and always wished she too could go to school! She asked her father, but he could not afford it. When Mamta turned 14, she was married off to a farmer in Badora. She soon had three children and was happy with her life!
Mamta’s husband and in-laws were very superstitious. One day, her husband and her father-in-law went in search of treasure in their farms, as directed by a local priest. In the process, Mamta’s husband fell into a well and died. Mamta’s in-laws blamed Mamta for his death, as their superstitious belief was that he died because Mamta was ‘unlucky’ for him! She was thrown out of the house, her children were kept away from her, and she was not accepted by her own family either! She was left homeless.  She worked as a labourer, stayed hungry for months, fought for her rights, for her children… but all to no avail!

One day, someone told Mamta about Self Help Groups. She decided to give it a try and joined one. Through the awareness programmes conducted by the SHG, Mamta gained the confidence to confess her miseries to her fellow mates and seek their help. The SHG women consoled her and explained to her that she can legally fight for her rights and get her children back. They gave her strength and courage. Mamta called up the DIG and asked him for help. The DIG was so inspired by the way she spoke to him, that he came to her and helped her fight her in-laws. Within a few months, Mamta managed to get her children back and also a share of her husband’s property!
The SHG women also encouraged her to remarry. She’s now married, with her children, and happy again!
Mamta has also opened a small tailoring shop with the money she borrowed from SHG. She is economically well-off and also learning Maths and English from a tuition master in her village!
Mamta’s story tells us how SHGs not only help women to gain economic benefits, but also helps them gain confidence, courage and strength!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

All Smiles!

Our women are happy because they overcome poverty out of their own initiative, their own passion!
We only support them.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Why Community Institutions of the Poor are Essential!

The distinct feature of poverty in India is that the boats of the poorest are nailed to the sea bed. When the tide rises, they sink. Often treated as dispensable commodities by those in power, they are helpless and unaware of even their basic rights.

This is where initiatives like RGMVP come in.

The Community Institutions of the Poor not only provide an interface or channel between the poorest of the poor and development initiatives, but also provides them with an opportunity to come out of poverty by helping them help themselves. Having said that, it is important to note that there is yet to exist a proper delivery mechanism, in terms of the Government and its agencies being able to implement schemes and programmes. Thus, there exists a wide gap between government initiatives and their actual implementation and delivery on ground.

RGMVP is not an extension of the aid delivery mechanism to the poorest. It is the yanking out of the sea bed of the chains that tie the bottom 30% of India firmly to the ocean's bed, which is a far more powerful and radical outcome.

We are not only helping them release themselves from the clutches of poverty and subordinated social status, but also helping them help themselves to unleash their true potential- through their own initiative.

Community institutions of the Poor bring together women, who voluntarily organize themselves, not only to practice micro-finance, but also to engage in awareness building and information dissemination activities (like government schemes, safe hygiene practises, agricultural practises, importance of education, etc.) and also citizenship based activities (helping them form a formidable force in fighting for one's rights, with respect to government schemes, entitlements, remedies/redressal or otherwise).

Women from within the three federations further volunteer to get trained on SHG formation (they help raise awareness amongst non-SHG members on the usefulness and importance of institutions of the poor, mobilise them and help them set up their own SHGs), issues of health, hygiene and nutrition (including maternal health, personal hygiene, menstrual health, latrine system and sanitation, child care, etc.), bank linkages (help women from SHGs set up their accounts and access loans, etc. and help them out with the procedure), etc.

The process is effective because the trainings capacitate these women to convince other women like them about the benefits of organizing the poor, as well as spread awareness and information on best practises, like the ones mentioned above.

We, thus, need to work towards helping the poor organize themselves. Over the last 10 years, we have reached out to over 350,000 households, forming over 30,000 SHGs in some of the most backward areas of Uttar Pradesh. We’re now striving to reach out to more and more poor women and help them overcome poverty and unleash their true potential!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

How RGMVP Changed My Life!

Asha Devi is a married woman with two children. She lives in Rasoi village of Jhansi district. Over a year back, her life revolved around waking up early in the morning, cooking food for her family, sending her husband to work, working in the farm till evening and then returning home to cook again. This was her life, day in and day out. She didn’t step out of the house for anything else. She didn’t speak to any strangers.

One day, a group of women from a very different region visited her village and knocked on her door. She opened it. They came in and asked her to listen to them for a while. She didn’t pay any heed to them. But they were persistent and so she reluctantly agreed. They took out some chart papers and explained to her the state of rural women in India today and what they could possibly do about it. Their concepts and ideas of organizing the poor to save money and solve problems really impressed Asha. She asked her husband to let her form a ‘samooh’ or self-help group. He didn’t find her plan worthy of any attention and argued that it’s a waste of time. Later, however, she did manage to convince him and formed a small group with women from her neighbourhood. Gradually, they found solace and solutions for all their problems in their weekly meetings. As they started openly discussing various aspects of women’s development, their inferiority started fading away and they felt more and more confident and empowered!

Things started to change for Asha. She borrowed a sum of Rs.600/- from her self-help group and bought a bicycle for her husband, who used to travel to work as a labourer, in a town 6 kms away from their place. Till date, she has borrowed Rs.35000/- and paid it all back. She has used the money to take care of her family’s health, children’s education, food and also to generate income by investing in buffaloes and growing cucumbers. She has also travelled to Andhra Pradesh twice- to see the condition of rural women there, observe how they fought
poverty from within their community and to get trained to become a Community Resource Person.

Today, a year and half later, Asha is a woman who confidently and fearlessly speaks to representatives of her area to solve local village issues and problems. She mobilises women from various groups and encourages them to lead better lives! She’s a known name in her village- not only as a good leader, but also as some one who wants to inspire other women to be good leaders!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

How Meera Devi Fought For Her Security

Meera Devi, Khajurah Kedi, Babina Block, Jhansi District, was a poor woman living with her family in a small hut in an isolated area close to her village. Residents of her area were prone to regular harassment by the customers of a cheap liquor stall nearby. After a lot of toleration, Meera got fed up with her insecurity and raised her voice against their business and filed a complaint against the stall at the local police station. This, in spite of solving her problem, made things complicated for her. The police did not help her and the owners of the liquor stall turned violent and injured Meera. She was helpless and thought she could do nothing but face it for the rest of her life!

However, one day, a few women from her village approached her and told her about the Self Help Groups that we help organize and suggested that she join it. Meera reluctantly agreed. Today, she proudly admits that she has gained a lot awareness and confidence from the activities of the ‘Samooh’ or Self Help Group. She knows very well now that self-confidence and unity that can do wonders for women.
Apart from solving her security problem, she has also progressed very well economically after joining her SHG. She has borrowed Rs.5000 to clear a loan she took from a local money lender. She returned the borrowed money and then took Rs.4000 and opened a small store of accessories for women. She borrowed Rs.5000/- again and invested it in growing ground nuts, which gave her a profit of Rs.25000! Now she is poor no more! She is independent, economically well of, able to educate her children well and also has security, for which she once struggled very hard! Meera’s story tells us that organizing poor women not only helps and empowers women themselves, but also her entire family and community!

After a couple of months, she gathered a group of 50 women and went to Babina Block’s police station in a tractor and demanded security. This move was quite effective. The police finally intervened and ensured them security from harassment.

Things were solved for her within a couple of days. She’s happy now, leading a peaceful life. Once in a while, she looks back at her dark days and says to herself, “how would I be now if there were no SHGs?