IWEN’s/CP’s current micro-credit program involves two types of beneficiaries. The first type of micro-credit group is composed of mothers who all have daughters supported by IWEN/CP. The second type of group is made up of mothers who do not have a daughter with IWEN/CP support. Both are called mother’s groups and the name of their village area identifies which group the mothers belong to. Here are a few of our original mothers.
IWEN’s/CP’s micro-credit focuses on developing the mothers’ self-reliance, which is facilitated by not giving seed money to the mothers when a group is formed. To avoid a culture of dependency the mothers were asked to give something back to IWEN/CP in return for their daughter’s educational scholarships, which IWEN/CP gave.
IWEN, as one of CP’s main donors has a policy that indicates that all of IWEN’s beneficiaries are requested to give something in return for IWEN’s support. Beneficiaries decide what they consider acceptable to give back to IWEN according to their situation. In this case the Tharu mothers are extremely poor so the mother’s in 2009 decided to give IWEN/CP 10 rupees at their mother’s group monthly meetings. IWEN/CP let the mothers place their 10 rupees in a common fund, which amounted to 14 cents per mother at the time.
Mothers started borrowing money from their mother’s group common fund at a 1% interest rate. Without realizing it the mother’s groups had started a micro-credit group using their own meager IWEN/CP contributions. Because it was their own money, they organized themselves with minimal help from IWEN’s and CP’s field staff. They learned to be accountable and trustworthy for their common funds, shared their resources and worked on solving their problems through discussion and goal setting.
Currently IWEN/CP has 25 Mother’s Groups with a total of 817 members, 8 of which were formed between 2008-2010, 4 were formed between 2009-2011 and 13 between 2011-2016. The program grew because women of the same village requested to form similar groups because of the success they witnessed in the original mother’s groups. Thus all new mothers’ groups are organized in the same manner as the original mother’s groups.
IWEN’s/CP’s groups are micro-credit and life skills groups where the mothers take complete responsibility for the business of the group. The groups’ common fund is built from the mothers’ own contributions. Each group decides on their guidelines and elects their own President, Secretary, and Treasurer.
Each group discuss which mothers are most in need of a loan when there is not enough money in the common fund for everyone and a common decision is made by the group as to who will receive the loan. Mothers also discuss current difficulties together and make sure to focus on solutions rather than being stuck in the problem. A life skills topic is discussed during each meeting of the mothers groups. This is addressed through either solving a current issue or discussing a life skill such as how best use the health post, improving hygiene, addressing the needs of pregnant mothers and how to protect oneself in cases of domestic abuse among other topics.
Each group operates on the principals of equality and transparency. All the members of the group are aware of the financial transactions within the group. These groups have developed a firm accountability to each other.
A motivational incentive is given to a mother’s group after one year of proper functioning and success within the group. IWEN/CP stresses that the motivational incentive is a result of their commitment to accountability and the effective use of borrowed funds. The motivational incentive is presented at the Tharu Maghi New Year’s Festival, a public event that focuses on the mother’s accomplishments.