Empowerment for the poor comes at a time when global pandemic, global competition and change require people to take inclusive initiative and be innovative. Based on the active, persistent, and change-oriented behaviors associated with psychological, social, financial empowerment, the program states that empowerment of the poor or low income family can contribute to entrepreneurship through inclusive financial initiative. The dimensions of empowerment that suggest a theoretical and empirical link with entrepreneurial behavior need to be promoted in an inclusive way. Several propositions regarding the interplay between empowerment and entrepreneurship through financial inclusion are formulated. The LIFIEE initiative inspires low income groups certain tailored paths to promote empowerment and entrepreneurship in applied context and suggests future directions to advance research on empowerment in the field of entrepreneurship through Financial Inclusion. At LIFIEE we promote the Financial Inclusion, Entrepreneurship and empowerment on the following sectors.
Lead India, GGF and LIF provide strategic support to Indian NGOs/CSOs to help the organisation achieve its aspirations to end poverty and inequality through entrepreneurship, Inclusion & empowerment, and to promote sustainable development in line with the globally agreed SDGs. We also supports Low Income Groups, as the world’s largest democracy, in the county’s ambitious commitments to rapid change and development priorities.
In India, as in other countries in the world, our work is guided by the United Nations Sustainable Development Framework (UNSDF), a framework of cooperation, results and strategies between Lead India, Participating NGOs, Government of India and the United Nations system in India to contribute to the achievement of national priorities and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The UNSDF was framed following a highly participative process, in consultation with government entities, civil society representatives, academia, and the private sector. The seven focus areas include:
– Poverty and Urbanisation
– Health, Water, and Sanitation
– Education and Employability
– Nutrition and Food Security
– Climate Change, Clean Energy and Disaster Resilience
– Skilling, Entrepreneurship, and Job Creation
– Gender Equality and Youth Development
The principle of gender equality is enshrined in the Indian Constitution in its Preamble, Fundamental Rights, Fundamental Duties and Directive Principles. The Constitution not only grants equality to women, but also empowers the State to adopt measures of positive discrimination in favour of women.
Within the framework of a democratic polity, our laws, development policies, Plans and programmes have aimed at women’s advancement in different spheres. From the Fifth Five Year Plan (1974-78) onwards has been a marked shift in the approach to women’s issues from welfare to development. In recent years, the empowerment of women has been recognized as the central issue in determining the status of women. The National Commission for Women was set up by an Act of Parliament in 1990 to safeguard the rights and legal entitlements of women. The 73rd and 74th Amendments (1993) to the Constitution of India have provided for reservation of seats in the local bodies of Panchayats and Municipalities for women, laying a strong foundation for their participation in decision making at the local levels.
Under the GGF, LIF and Lead India, in India prioritise seven low-income states that account for 67.6 percent of people living in poverty in India: Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. Additionally, in close collaboration with State Governments and civil society organizations, we provide support for several ecosystem and livelihoods initiatives in the North-East states.
At the sub-sub-national, we also focus on the 115 Aspirational districts identified by the Government of India as part of the national Transformation of Aspirational Districts program.
Women population comprises of half of the population of a country. Therefore, a country’s progress and growth depend on the contribution of its women population as well. Individuals who create business and employment are entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurship is actually the ability to develop and sustain a business associated with risk and ultimately make profit. Every entrepreneur aims to make profit for his own concern. Entrepreneurship is also associated with conversion of new innovation and technology into business which ultimately generates employment and profit in the economy and thus the entrepreneurs contributes towards the growth of an economy. According to Schumpeter innovation in business is the primary reason for increased investment and business ups-and-downs in an economy. Recently, women entrepreneurship in India is also making a mark in the society. Many Indian women are empowered to do business on their own. Women in the present scenario in Indian society have started taking initiative to make a start up with their career as entrepreneurs with small business. Women are also successful in their field of business. The women in our society are progressive and capable of sustaining a business. Hence, we also focus on the women entrepreneur’s contribution to the society. So, to promote an overall empowerment we specialize ourselves on the following 10 fields on empowerment of the Low income groups.
“There are two powers in the world; one is the sword and the other is the pen. There is a third power stronger than both, that of women.” - Malala Yousafzai
Initiated by an alumnus of Arizona State University, USA, ‘Our mission is financial inclusion, Entrepreneurship & women’s empowerment’. LIFIEE implementation is in a Mission Mode. This enables
(a) Shift from the present allocation based strategy to a demand driven strategy enabling the states to formulate their own livelihoods-based poverty reduction action plans,
(b) Focus on targets, outcomes and time bound delivery,
(c) Continuous capacity building, imparting requisite skills and creating linkages with livelihoods opportunities for the poor, including those emerging in the organized sector,
(d) monitoring against targets of poverty outcomes. As LIFIEE follows a demand driven strategy, the States have the flexibility to develop their livelihoods-based perspective plans and annual action plans for poverty reduction. The overall plans would be within the allocation for the state based on inter-se poverty ratios.
So our sole mission is, "to reduce poverty by enabling the poor households to access gainful self-employment and skilled wage employment opportunities, resulting in appreciable improvement in their livelihoods on a sustainable basis, through building strong grassroots institutions of the poor."
“Women’s economic empowerment is going to take more than bank accounts. But bank accounts can be powerful tools in the hands of women who are determined to take more control over their lives.” Our vision is a world where all people are able to use financial services and participate in the economy to improve their lives and prosper.
LIFIEE visions to work with the following guiding principles
• Poor have a strong desire to come out of poverty, and they have innate capabilities
• Social mobilization and building strong institutions of the poor is critical for unleashing the innate capabilities of the poor.
• An external dedicated and sensitive support structure is required to induce the social mobilization, institution building and empowerment process.
• Facilitating knowledge dissemination, skill building, access to credit, access to marketing, and access to other livelihoods services underpins this upward mobility.
LIFIEE has the following core values which guide all the activities under LIFIEE are as follows:
• Inclusion of the poorest, and meaningful role to the poorest in all the processes
• Transparency and accountability of all processes and institutions
• Ownership and key role of the poor and their institutions in all stages – planning, implementation, and, monitoring
• Community self-reliance and self-dependence
“By shifting all the levers within our reach, we can improve the chances that we will collectively level the playing field in ways that improve the lives of women.” LIFIEE strives to create a favorable environment for the industry to deliver microfinance services with ease by providing handholding support to LIGs. To do this, LIFIEE invests in building strong relationships with all its stakeholders to ensure that the contribution of microfinance in the national agenda of financial inclusion is well established.
LIFIEE has established Task Forces for focused action on specific areas of activities that, from an overall industry standpoint, are deemed critical. The Task Forces comprise of representatives of member institutions who help drive specific initiatives with the support of the LIFIEE Members. The Advocacy & PR Task Force is responsible for steering and guiding the advocacy agenda within LIFIEE. The Task Force engages with key policy makers and sector participants to create a conducive policy and business environment for the industry.
LIFIEE plan to engage with the key stakeholders of the microfinance industry including Reserve Bank of India (RBI), National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), Ministry of Finance (MoF), Micro Units Development & Refinance Agency (MUDRA), Small Industries Development Ba nk of India (SIDBI), Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA), Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) and Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). LIFIEE is also prioritizing itself to be a part of various think tanks and discussion including the RBI’s Financial Inclusion Advisory Committee, the MUDRA Board, PSIG Think Tank, and the Access Assist Advisory Group forums in the next three years with a capacity of one lakh SHGs/LIGs.
The implementation of our planned action will be fulfilled by making the network of SHGs. LIGs across the country in two ways. Either they can be paid member and enjoy benefits of membership or they can be unpaid members to get our strong support for their growth in the assistance program we have planned for the SHGs. The non-paid members will be our assets in the growth of our concept. The paid members will be the privileged part of our program to enjoy many tailored financial services and assistances meant for them.
|SERVICES TO OUR PAID MEMBERS||SERVICES TO OUR UNPAID MEMBERS|
|Hand holding support to Link with banks||No hand holding services to link to banks|
|Loans upto 25 lakhs with lowest interest rate||Loans upto 2 lakhs with normal interest rates|
|Livestock and Agricultural loans||Only need based loans for the SHGs/LIGs|
|New projects with hand holding support to make success||No project application for the groups due to the risk factors|
|Training programs for the success of projects||No Training programs|
Too many barriers keep people from taking ownership of their financial futures, such as late fees and high-interest credit card debt. Access to financial education can help break down those barriers and open up new possibilities.
Financial empowerment is a journey that changes as our lives evolve. So we develop programs and seek out partners that enable us to reach people at key stages throughout their lives.
Despite India boasting of a woman Finance Minister, at the household level, many women still remain focused on the domestic front. It is not hard to find a household with a women breadwinner, where the finance portfolio is entrusted to the man of the house. This gender asymmetry in investing decisions at household level can be attributed as much to entrenched societal mores as to inadequate financial knowledge in such women.
Traditionally, women have had a great knack at putting away some part of their cash inflows and surprising everyone with unprecedented help in times of a family crisis. Some stashed these savings under the mattress while others at best put it in a savings bank account because they did not know better. Alas, both the options made sure that inflation eroded the value of these funds. Remember, your money in bank accounts including FD rarely earns enough to beat inflation. So bank deposits are not really investments. So is an insurance policy. An investment is something that earns you enough to cover rising prices and still leaves something on the table.
Poor quality education is leading to poor learning outcomes in India, ultimately pushing children out of the education system and leaving them vulnerable to child labour, abuse and violence. Many classrooms continue to be characterized by teacher-centred rote learning, corporal punishment and discrimination. Learning assessments show that many of those children who are in school are not learning the basics of literacy and numeracy or the additional knowledge and skills necessary for their all-round development as specified under the Right to Education Act. Much remains to be done to ensure a child-friendly learning environment where all children benefit from gender-sensitive and inclusive classrooms, as well as the availability of improved water, sanitation and hygiene, and mid-day meal practices.
Every girl and boy in India has the fundamental right to quality education, an education one that helps them to acquire basic literacy and numeracy, enjoy learning without fear and feel valued and included irrespective of where they come from.
For the first time in 10 years, reading and arithmetic scores have improved in public funded schools at early grades (ASER 2016). In seven states (Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Punjab, Haryana, Telangana and Uttarakhand) reading level increased by 7 per cent at grade 3 level since 2014. This indicates that increase in learning is possible but takes time. There is a general presumption among many policy makers that secondary and higher education is not necessary for economic growth and development. On the other hand, it is literacy and primary education that is argued to be important. Estimates on internal rate of return also contributed to strengthening of such a presumption. Increased national and international concerns for Education For All, also led to overall neglect of secondary and higher education in many developing countries. The problem of resource scarcity added further to the problem. Accordingly, secondary and higher education do not figure on the poverty reduction agenda of many poor countries. Indian experience also testifies to all this. Secondary and more strikingly higher education has been subject to neglect by the government and the current situation with respect to not only elementary education, but also secondary and higher education is far from satisfactory.
Health and health care need to be distinguished from each other for no better reason than that the former is often incorrectly seen as a direct function of the latter. Heath is clearly not the mere absence of disease. Good Health confers on a person or groups freedom from illness - and the ability to realize one's potential. Health is therefore best understood as the indispensable basis for defining a person's sense of well being. The health of populations is a distinct key issue in public policy discourse in every mature society often determining the deployment of huge society. They include its cultural understanding of ill health and well-being, extent of socio-economic disparities, reach of health services and quality and costs of care. and current bio-mcdical understanding about health and illness.
Several factors contribute to Indian women's relative lack of empowerment including the patriarchal nature of Indian society, constrained mobility, limited work opportunities, and low levels of social, political and economic participation. Lack of empowerment results in negative consequences, such as poor health, disparities in allocation of household resources, medical care and education, and increased burden of strenuous physical tasks. According to researchers, gender disadvantage is the main determinant of the poor health status of many Indian women.
Health care covers not merely medical care but also all aspects pro preventive care too. Nor can it be limited to care rendered by or financed out of public expenditure within the government sector alone but must include incentives and disincentives for self care and care paid for by private citizens to get over ill health. Where, as in India, private out-of-pocket expenditure dominates the cost financing health care, the effects are bound t be regressive. Heath care at its essential core is widely recognized to be a public good. Its demand and supply cannot therefore, be left to be regulated solely by the invisible had of the market. Nor can it be established on considerations of utility maximizing conduct alone.
Legal empowerment of the poor can be understood as the process of systemic change through which the poor are protected and enabled to use the law to advance their rights and their interests as citizens and economic actors. It is a means to an end but also an end in itself. Strengthening the rule of law is an important contributor to the legal empowerment of the poor. While it is not a substitute for other important development interventions, legal empowerment of the poor can be a necessary condition to create an enabling environment for providing sustainable livelihoods and eradicating poverty. 4. Legal empowerment is rooted in a human rights based approach to development, which recognizes that poverty results from disempowerment, exclusion and discrimination. Thus legal empowerment fosters development through empowering and strengthening the voices of individuals and communities, starting at the grassroots and from within. It also recognizes that every individual must have access to justice, including due process, justice and remedies and that action must be taken to eliminate discrimination. Legal empowerment promotes a participatory approach to development as well as recognizes the importance of engaging civil society and community-based organizations to ensure that the poor and the marginalized have identity and voice. Such an approach can strengthen democratic governance and accountability, which, in turn, can play a critical role in the achievement of the internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals.
Small-scale enterprises have been a large part of industrialization as well as job creation in India. As defined by the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development (MSMED) Act of 2006, a microenterprise in India is a small business in which the investment in plant and machinery is no more than $ 40,000. Micro entrepreneurship and women entrepreneurs are alleviating poverty in India, particularly because up until the past couple of decades women were a largely untapped source of economic potential.
The Government of India has defined women entrepreneurs as those whose enterprise has a minimum financial interest of 51 percent of the capital and is made up of at least 51 percent female workers. Although rural women in India are mainly responsible for agricultural production, domestic duties and childcare, their economic status is low in a male-dominated society.
Women in India have been able to raise their economic status and fight poverty in their country by taking charge of microenterprises. Women have, therefore, been able to use household skills to knit, stitch, weave and embroider for developing their microenterprises. They have also been able to use their technical skills and raw farm materials to earn substantial incomes and small agricultural units.
Increasing the participation of women in micro, small and medium enterprises is an important stepping stone to alleviating poverty in India because not only does it engage women in productive work outside their homes, but it also empowers them and improves family health. In addition, women entrepreneurs can provide society with different management, organization and business solutions because of their different perspectives and skills.
The Labor Force participation rate has declined from 42 percent (1993-94) to 31 percent (2011-12). Nearly 20 million Indian women quit work between 2011/12 and May 2014. The predictable reasons for this occurrence have always been patriarchy, marriage, motherhood, late nighttime schedules and security. The female participation rates have been dropping since 2005, despite having 42 percent of women graduates per graduating cycle. As article from Hindustan Times says, “Women want to work but there are not enough jobs being created.” According to BBC news, another possible reason for this drop in employment could be the recent expansion of secondary education; that is, women opting to continue studies rather than join work. At the same time, getting a higher education also does not ensure that women will eventually go to work.
The ministry of labor and employment has published few facts regarding growth trends in women employment. Women form an integral part of the Indian workforce. According to the information provided by the office of Registrar General & Census Commissioner of India, As per Census 2011, the total number of female workers in India is 149.8 million and female workers in rural and urban areas are 121.8 and 28.0 million respectively.
Out of total 149.8 million female workers, 35.9 million females are working as cultivators and another 61.5 million are agricultural laborers. Of the remaining females workers, 8.5 million are in household Industry and 43.7 million are classified as other workers.
Agriculture is an important source of employment and income, particularly in developing countries. Yet agricultural workers often face decent work deficits, working for low wages and incomes under poor and sometimes hazardous conditions, and lacking the means to effectively address their situation. Achieving decent work and improving productivity in agriculture are key to reducing poverty and stimulating economic growth in rural areas. Improving the quantity and quality of jobs, promoting rights at work, extending social protection, and strengthening rural workers’ organizations are crucial for achieving decent work and improving agricultural productivity.
Delivery of financial services was highly constrained with bank branch density at less than half of national average. Against an estimated rural micro-credit demand of US$2.4 billion, the annual credit delivery in 2006 was US$8.4 million. As a result, a vast section of the poor was dependent on high cost borrowings from informal sources. This limited asset and capital formation and development of self-employment opportunities among the poor, reinforcing deep rooted and exploitative relationships with additional hardships for women in a State with high out-migration of male heads of households.
Low productivity subsistence agriculture was the dominant source of income for nearly 70 percent of Indian population. The poor quality of producer organizations, lack of capital formation, poorly developed value chains, inadequate research and extension facilities and most crucially, low levels of social capital among the poor hindered their access to factors to support high agriculture productivity and income diversification.
Eradication of poverty remains a major challenge of planned economic development. Experiences of different states with economic growth and poverty reduction have been so varied that it is difficult to offer any general policy prescription. There are states that followed the path of high agricultural growth and succeeded in reducing poverty (Punjab and Haryana) and states that focused on human resource development and reduced poverty (Kerala). There have been states that implemented land reforms with vigour, empowered the Panchayats, mobilised the poor and implemented poverty-alleviation programmes effectively (West Bengal) and states that brought about reduction in poverty by direct public intervention in the form of public distribution of food grains (Andhra Pradesh).
Through empowering women, this project is also helping reduce the emissions associated with the production of electricity in these communities. For example, one of MHT’s core initiatives trains women to become energy auditors and educate households on the nuances of energy use such as bill calculation, wattage consumption and energy wastage. As energy auditors, these women also encourage households to switch to more energy efficient products.
These trained energy auditors also act as grassroots level micro-entrepreneurs, by forming a women-led distribution network of green energy and building products. Energy auditors promote the installation of energy efficient LED bulbs and lights, modular roofs, airlite ventilator, many other solutions.
While women from low-income families are often the most vulnerable as they have the least access to information and resources, MHT believes they also have the greatest potential to be empowered to become agents of change.
The rationale for the project is to provide these women with the requisite knowledge to undertake vulnerability and risk assessments, while also equipping them with the available climate resilient-technologies. This means they will be able to identify climate induced vulnerabilities, minimize risk and adopt locally relevant climate resilient solutions. In turn, these women also can potentially play a role in influencing better city planning and governance for pro-poor adaptation and resilience actions.
Investment in human capital like education and health are key ingredients for economic development. Much of the impoverishment in India today can be addressed by enhancing human capital by investing in nutrition, health, education and by providing appropriate skills for employment. Though India’s social policies have focused on the welfare of the people and also human development, challenges remain in overcoming social and economic barriers to advance the capabilities of the marginalized, women and other weaker sections of the society. With India poised for higher growth anchored on a knowledge economy, there are benefits to be reaped by investing in human capital.
Poverty reduction requires economic growth which, when accompanied by sound macroeconomic management and good governance, results in sustainable and socially inclusive development (ADB 1999). Greater access of the poor to education and health services, water and sanitation, employment, credit, and markets for produce is needed. Moreover, the vulnerability of the poor to economic shocks and natural disasters must be reduced to enhance their well-being and encourage investment in human capital and in higher-risk and higher-return activities.
Public policy reforms and investment in physical infrastructure will significantly contribute to the pursuit of socially inclusive development. Typically, the incidence of rural poverty is inversely related to the size of landholdings, decreasing from landless to submarginal, marginal to small, then to large farmers. Hence, the sources of income vary among these groups, with the share of wage income being the highest among the landless, submarginal, and marginal farmers; and the share of crop income increasing progressively from submarginal to large farmers. Wage income depends on agricultural productivity and employment, as well as on nonagricultural employment and productivity.
Crop income is largely determined by agricultural productivity. Agricultural and nonagricultural productivity contribute to economic growth, particularly in the rural sector. Landless laborers and submarginal farmers are net buyers of food while the other groups of farmers are net sellers of food. When agricultural prices rise, the former groups’ real income drops while it increases for the latter. Implicitly, the terms of trade between agriculture and nonagriculture are also an important determinant of poverty incidence. In this simple analytical framework, the main determinants of rural poverty include agricultural productivity, nonagricultural employment, and nonagricultural productivity.
Women’s economic empowerment is central to realizing women’s rights and gender equality. Women’s economic empowerment includes women’s ability to participate equally in existing markets; their access to and control over productive resources, access to decent work, control over their own time, lives and bodies; and increased voice, agency and meaningful participation in economic decision-making at all levels from the household to international institutions.
Empowering women in the economy and closing gender gaps in the world of work are key to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly Goal 5, to achieve gender equality, and Goal 8, to promote full and productive employment and decent work for all; also Goal 1 on ending poverty, Goal 2 on food security, Goal 3 on ensuring health and Goal 10 on reducing inequalities.
When more women work, economies grow. Women’s economic empowerment boosts productivity, increases economic diversification and income equality in addition to other positive development outcomes. For example, increasing the female employment rates in OECD countries to match that of Sweden, could boost GDP by over USD 6 trillion, recognizing, however, that. growth does not automatically lead to a reduction in gender-based inequality. Conversely, it is estimated that gender gaps cost the economy some 15 percent of GDP.
India ranks 120 among 131 countries in female labor force participation rates and rates of gender-based violence remain unacceptably high. It’s hard to develop in an inclusive and sustainable way when half of the population is not fully participating in the economy. At 17% of GDP, the economic contribution of Indian women is less than half the global average, and compares unfavorably to the 40% in China, for instance. India could boost its growth by 1.5 percentage points to 9 percent per year if around 50% of women could join the work force.
This is not to say that India has not had some success. Some young women are staying in school longer, and others are choosing to leave work as circumstances change and incomes rise, but India must turn the tide to realize its development potential. What will it take to reverse this trend and embark on the next chapter of India’s success story?
Valuing girls and women is critical factor in making societies more prosperous and my experience of working in other countries shows this. Women’s economic empowerment is highly connected with poverty reduction as women also tend to invest more of their earnings in their children and communities.