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As India fights the pandemic of COVID-19, self-help-groups (SHGs) have emerged as effective frontline responders, reaching the last-mile and ensuring an immediate relief and socio-economic protection to the country’s most vulnerable. The current pandemic situation has severely impacted on rural community especially the women who are involved with such groups. As far as rural areas of India are concerned, the physical infrastructure is challenge but the social infrastructure is very strong. Leveraging on social infrastructure for distribution, direct marketing, advertising and promotion, communication linkage, among other interventions are utmost critical for success of SHGs in the rural development.
Speaking at National CSR Network e-interactive meeting, Nagendra Nath Sinha, Secretary, Ministry of Rural Development emphasised on the remarkable role played by SHGs especially the women in managing COVID-19 pandemic in rural areas and their crucial role of CSR initiatives in achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations. He also stressed on the role of corporates to strengthen SHGs with CSR initiative and funding.
Dr. Rajeev Kandpal, JS and CFO - Government e-Marketplace highlighted on various direct and indirect marketplace initiatives on the “Saras Collection” platform for SHGs, Start-up Runway platform, “Womaniya” for women entrepreneurs and other initiatives for promotion of tribal products. He emphasised that scaling up of SHGs can help in creation of hyper local jobs in rural areas. The need of the hour is to leverage technology and create innovative solutions for a quantum leap in rural development. He stressed that the National CSR Network can play a catalyst role in building market linkages for SHGs using e-marketplace.
Highlighting the role women in SHGs in rural development, Dr Suhas Wani, Ex Director, ICRISAT and International Consultant, Asian Development Bank, Manila said “The SHGs largely comprising rural women serve as an integral and effective community communication channel and build on social infrastructure for distribution, micro- entrepreneurship as well as direct marketing, advertising, promotion and communication linkage. Their role and reach are utmost critical during COVID-19 pandemic. The issues of food, nutrition and income security are handled efficiently by the women SHGs. I see National CSR Network playing the role of a catalyst in empowering SHG's by building capacities and facilitating partnerships between key stakeholders, especially Department of Rural Development and Government e -Marketplace as well as corporates.”
While sharing the Industry perspective, Atul Wahi, Director, Central Services, Welspun Group said, “The commitment to sustainable social progress has always been enshrined in Welspun's way of working and our corporate social value creation focuses on 3 Es -Education, Empowerment, Environment and Health. Our group has immensely contributed towards creating livelihood opportunities for the rural community in a holistic manner and is in consonance with its philosophy of inclusive growth.”
National CSR Network organised e-interactive meeting on ‘Empowering SHGs for Economic Growth through Rural Marketing-Opportunities and Challenges’ on Tuesday where experts discussed the challenges and need for empowering women in SHGs for better response and delivery in rural market. Today’s e-interactive session had an online participation with around 130 participants from across government stakeholders, corporates, start-up groups and NGO’s from all parts of India.