The Agha Khan Foundation, jointly with NRI UK, implemented a research project to determine the viability of Self Help Groups (SHGs) for community savings and credit in Badakshan, N.E. Afghanistan. The project operates in areas affected by poppy cultivation and consumption in the districts of Jhurm and Ishkhashim. The project has a strong research mandate and:
- focuses on using SHGs as a way of strengthening community-level institutions, especially for poor men and women
- organizes groups to promote community-based microfinance activities with an emphasis on savings
- arranges credit through linkage loans based on the group performances on savings
SHGs are groups of self-selected men or women of similar economic backgrounds living in the same village. The groups' main function is to save on a regular basis, and use the savings capital for loans to members of the group. However, these can also lead to other social and development benefits. The SHG model has been accepted, even by communities with a strong religious influence, despite its credit related activity. Participants from development organizations, including microfinance institutions, were invited to a learning workshop organized jointly by AKF, NRI-UK, Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation and the RALF Programme, with the following objectives:
- to inform about the results of the project, the SHG methodology and impact,
- to identify the place (now and in the next 5 years) of the SHG approach among other micro-finance initiatives in the Afghan context (financial, social, developmental contributions)
- to discuss and identify next steps towards the consolidation and expansion of the SHG approach with respect to the specific situation in Afghanistan
The proceedings documents comprise: the workshop agenda; list of delegates; programme introduction and summary; and presentations on three aspects of the programme, literacy and empowerment, establishment of SHGs and linkage loans.
RALF, ICARDA, Aleppo, Syria, 8 documents.