SEWA: The Self-Employed Women's Association
Under the guidance of Ms.Ela Bhat, a women's trade
union called Self-Employed Women's Association (SEWA) was
registered at Ahmedabad in India in 1972. One of the services it operates is a
cooperative bank which was started in 1974 with an initial membership of
4,000 (11,000 in 19887-88. The main features of SEWA
The objectives of the Bank are:
- membership is open only to poor women on payment of
Rs. 10 (32 cents)as share capital.
- help women become financially independent and start
their own economic activity
- cut red-tape/procedures to help illiterate women get
small loans without difficulty (In view of the fact
that many women could not even sign their names,
photographs were used for identification).
SEWA Bank also provides legal and productivity
training, education, maternity, protection, social
security and "creche" facilities.
- to provide facilities for savings and fixed deposits
accounts, thus inculcating thrift in women managing
their savings and ensuring safe custody of cash.
- to provide credit to further the productive,
economic and income generating activities of the poor
- to extend technical and management assistance in
production, storage, processing, designing and sale of
goods and services
- to provide facilities to redeem jewellery from pawn
brokers and money lenders
- to adopt procedures and designs schemes suitable for
self-employed women, like collecting daily savings from
their place of business or home, or providing savings
boxes and giving training in banking procedures.
Note: Rs.31 = US$1
Some figures (for 1988):
Deposits Rs. 11,233,000
Profits Rs. 370,000
Staff members 22 (excluding field staff)
Interest rates (p.a.) 12-16.5 %
Repayment schedule 36 monthly installments
LOAN DISBURSEMENTS BY VALUE 1984/85 to 1987/88
Amount Percentage of
(in rupees) total Loans
Less than 3,000 25.0
3,001 to 5,000 30.0
5,001 to 10,000 12.0
10,001 to 15,000 25.0
15,001 to 20,000 8.0
Performance Comparison with Public Sector Banks:
Items Public Banks SEWA Bank
Profit/deposits 0.20 3.57
Profit/Loans 0.35 5.55
Reserve/Deposits 1.17 9.82
Reserves/Loans 2.05 15.27
Some major departures from conventional banking
- close supervision by field staff who visit borrowers
regularly to remind them of their repayment
- Guarantees by two persons with regular incomes are
accepted for loans distribution.
- Jewellery may be accepted as collateral
- credit services are supplemented by other community
- recovery rate of loans is over 95 %.
- staff provide additional assistance in filling forms,
obtaining required documents, hiring professional
services, assessing loan requirements etc.
- procedural simplification has made the schemes more
accessible to the poor and illiterate.
Return to the SEWA Page
Hari Srinivas - firstname.lastname@example.org
Return to the Virtual Library on Microcredit