Multiple Meanings of Money: How Women See Microfinance


Smita Premchander, V. Prameela, M. Chidambaranathan & L. Jeyaseelan

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    For the women who talked about their lives, relationships and finances, so that we could all learn together

    List of Tables

    • 1.1 Terms and Conditions for Different Types of Loans 4
    • 2.1 Partnership Models for Microfinance Delivery 33
    • 2.2 Units for Impact Assessment 42
    • 2.3 Aspects and Indicators for Impact Assessment 43
    • 2.4 Divergence in Microfinance Savings: Model and Practice 49
    • 2.5 Debts of Women SHG Members in Orissa 51
    • 2.6 Divergence between Theory and Practice: Purpose of Loans 51
    • 2.7 Critique of Practice of Impact 60
    • 3.1 Distribution of Landholdings 70
    • 3.2 Income from Land (per acre) 72
    • 3.3 Seasonal Calendar—Agricultural Labour Work 74
    • 3.4 Sectoral Distribution of Employment in Koppal District 75
    • 3.5 Demographic Profile of the Five Villages Studied 79
    • 3.6 Gender and Human Development Indices (Koppal) 80
    • 3.7 Landholdings Distribution in Koppal 80
    • 3.8 Infrastructure Facilities 92
    • 3.9 SHG-Bank Linkage of Sampark Groups (2007) 98
    • 4.1 Informal Loan Sources 139
    • 4.2 Analysis of Subsidy Loan Defaults 145
    • 4.3 Loans from Different Formal Sources (August 2003) 149
    • 4.4 Factors and Perceptions Related to Value of Loan Taken 153
    • 5.1 Details of Loans from SHGs (August 2003) 163
    • 5.2 Savings and Loan Transaction of Gallidurgamma SHG 165
    • 5.3 Loans from Own Savings: Kasturibai SHG 168
    • 5.4 Different Repayment Practices 175
    • 5.5 Different Rationales for Money Management 180
    • 5.6 Social Impacts 190
    • 6.1 Financial and Women's Perspectives 213
    • A1.1 Overview of Field Visits 227
    • A1.2 Number of NGOs, Groups and Women Visited 229
    • A1.3 Review of Selected Microfinance Impact Assessment Studies 229
    • A1.4 Tools 231
    • A1.5 List of NGOs in Koppal District 232

    List of Figures

    • 1.1 Spectrum of Credit Supply 4
    • 1.2 Exploring Meanings of Money 8
    • 1.3 Application of Analytical Frameworks 10
    • 1.4 Socio-economic Positioning 12
    • 1.5 Data Collection Methods Used 14
    • 2.1 Changing Focus of Donors and NGOs 28
    • 2.2 Banking Structure 30
    • 2.3 Characteristics of Indian Microfinance Models 32
    • 2.4 SHG-Bank Linkage Model (NGO as ‘Facilitator’) 34
    • 2.5 SHG-Bank Linkage through RRB 34
    • 2.6 SHG-Bank Linkage through NGO 34
    • 2.7 Cooperative Model 35
    • 2.8 NGO–MFIs as Financial Intermediaries 36
    • 2.9 MBT/MACS–NBFC Model 37
    • 2.10 Understanding of Impact 39
    • 2.11 Spectrum of Different Perspectives on MF Impact 40
    • 2.12 Approaches to Impact Assessment 41
    • 2.13 Conflict of Objectives 47
    • 3.1 Exploring Meanings: Livelihoods Context 69
    • 3.2 Research Location 70
    • 3.3 Observed Migration Pattern 76
    • 3.4 Ecological and Economic Context 78
    • 3.5 Livelihoods in the Koppal Context 100
    • 4.1 Exploring Meanings: Women's Use of Money 105
    • 4.2 Shivavva's Inflows Distributions 119
    • 4.3 Shivavva's Distribution of Outflows 119
    • 4.4 Total Inflows and Outflows of Shivavva 119
    • 4.5 Dramatic Change in Condition and Position 131
    • 4.6 Women's Livelihoods Assets 136
    • 4.7 Spectrum of Loan Sources 137
    • 4.8 Nature of Relationship with Landlord 140
    • 4.9 Spectrum of Formal Sources 141
    • 4.10 Determining Factors for Use of Loan 154
    • 4.11 Factors Determining Use of Credit for Enterprise Start-up 155
    • 5.1 Exploring Meanings: Group Processes and Dynamics 158
    • 5.2 Livelihoods Perspective of Savings 159
    • 5.3 Financial Perspective of Savings 161
    • 5.4 Relationships between Women and Formal Sources of Loans 176
    • 5.5 Perception of Risk 178
    • 5.6 Impact from Group Savings 181
    • 5.7 Access and Control Over Savings 182
    • 5.8 Structure of Women's Organisations 186
    • 5.9 Different Perspectives, Divergent Paths 189
    • 6.1 Values of Local and External Actors 199
    • 6.2 Framework for Impact Assessment 202
    • 6.3 Impact of Formal Loans 204
    • 6.4 From Gender-sensitive Research to Practice 219
    • A2.1 Sustainable Livelihoods Framework 234
    • A2.2 AOP Framework 234
    • A2.3 Rural Livelihood Systems Nine-square Mandala Framework 235

    List of Abbreviations

    ADBAsian Development Bank
    AFCAgriculture Finance Corporation Ltd
    AIMSAssessing the Impact of Microenterprise Services
    ANMAuxiliary Nurse and Midwife
    AOPActor-oriented Perspectives
    APAndhra Pradesh
    APMASAndhra Pradesh Mahila Abhivruddhi Society
    ASAActivists for Social Action
    BAIFBharatiya Agro Industries Foundation
    BDSBusiness Development Services
    BPLBelow Poverty Line
    BRACBangladesh Rural Advancement Committee
    BRCSBay Research and Consultancy Services
    CARECooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere
    CCACanadian Cooperative Association
    CDECentre for Development and Environment
    CETZAMThe Christian Enterprise Trust Zambia
    CGAPConsultative Group for Assisting the Poor
    CMFCentre for Microfinance
    CYSDCentre for Youth and Social Development
    DANIDADanish International Development Assistance
    DFIDDepartment for International Development
    DICDistrict Industries Centre
    DLCCDistrict Level Coordination Committee
    DLRCDistrict Level Review Committee
    DWCRADevelopment of Women and Children in Rural Areas
    EDPsEntrepreneurship Development Programmes
    FAOFood and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
    FWWBFriends of Women's World Banking
    GOIGovernment of India
    GOKGovernment of Karnataka
    GTZGerman Development Cooperation/German Technical Cooperation
    HCRHead Count Ratio
    HDFCHousing Development Finance Corporation
    HIV/AIDSHuman Immunodeficiency Virus/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome
    HSBCHong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Ltd.
    ICICIIndustrial Credit and Investment Corporation of India
    IFADInternational Fund for Agricultural Development
    IFPInstitut Frangais de Pondicherry
    IGAIncome Generating Activity
    IIHRDIndian Institute for Human Research and Development
    IIPOIndian Institute of Public Opinion
    IIPSInternational Institute for Population Sciences
    ILOInternational Labour Organization
    IRDPIntegrated Rural Development Programme
    KSWDCKarnataka State Women's Development Corporation
    LEADLeague for Education and Development
    MACSMutually Aided Cooperative Society
    MASYMahila Arthik Samavrudhi Yojane
    MBTMutual Benefit Trust
    MFIMicrofinance Institution
    MFOMicro-finance Organisations
    MFPMinor Forest Produce
    MHHDCMahbub ul Haq Human Development Centre
    MLAMember of Legislative Assembly
    MYRADAMysore Resettlement and Development Agency
    NABARDNational Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development
    NBFCNon-Banking Financial Company
    NCCR-NSNational Centre for Competence in Research—North-South
    NGONon-governmental Organisation
    OBCsOther Backward Castes
    ODAOverseas Development Administration
    PGBPragato Grameen Bank
    PGIPoverty Gap Index
    PRAParticipatory Rural Appraisal
    PRADANProfessional Assistance for Development Action
    PSIPastoral Service Institute
    RBIReserve Bank of India
    RCCRural Credit Cooperative
    RLSRural Livelihood Systems
    RMPRegistered Medical Practitioner
    RRBRegional Rural Bank
    SAAService Area Approach
    SAPAPSouth Asia Poverty Alleviation Programme
    SBHState Bank of Hyderabad
    SBIState Bank of India
    SCScheduled Caste
    SDCSwiss Agency for Development and Cooperation
    SDMCSchool Development and Management Committee
    SEWASelf-Employed Women's Association
    SFMCSIDBI Foundation for Microcredit
    SGSYSwarna Jayanthi Gram Swarozgar Yojana
    SHGSelf-help Group
    SHPISelf-help Promoting Institution
    SIDBISmall Industries Development Bank of India
    SLFSustainable Livelihoods Framework
    SNSFSwiss National Science Foundation
    SNRMSustainable Natural Resources Management
    STScheduled Tribes
    TBFThe Bridge Foundation
    TGBTungabhadra Grameen Bank
    TNTamil Nadu
    TRYSEMTraining of Rural Youth for Self-employment
    UNDPUnited Nations Development Programme
    UNOPSUnited Nations Office for Project Services
    USAIDUnited States Agency for International Development
    UTIUnit Trust of India
    ZPZilla Parishad


    This book analyses what microfinance money means to women; in doing so, it focuses on the perspectives of individual women and those of women-only groups. Most microfinance programmes are delivered through women-only groups, which are formed when 15–20 women get together on a voluntary basis to form the group, usually with the encouragement of an external agency (for example, non-governmental organisation [NGO], government, microfinance institution [MFI]) and are engaged primarily in savings and credit activities. The book explores women's own money management strategies, group dynamics and learning processes in groups and, in this context, discusses the divergence between the perspectives of external intervening agencies and those of women who are members of self-help groups (SHGs).

    This book does not consciously follow a feminist methodology; yet, the perspective is feminist, as it questions the benefits and costs arising to women from development programmes. The feminist principles used include a focus on gender, valuing women's experiences, rejecting a split between subject and object and emphasising empowerment, political change and emancipation.1

    In Sampark, we work as practitioners, advisors and trainers in the field of microfinance and microenterprise and in this sense have multiple roles and therefore have access and sensitivity to multiple perspectives in this sector. As evaluation teams, advisors and trainers, we work with several donor organisations and NGOs at the macro- and meso-levels. The task involves understanding women, and one of our professional habits is to listen to women. Our professional responsibility is to represent women's perspectives in a way that the project implementing agencies and donors hear ‘their’ voices directly, so as to say. The job involves authenticating women's voices and we are aware that it takes a lot of energy. Somehow, we find that we can be talking ‘against’ the projects, that ‘projects’ take on personalities to be respected and feared, they cannot be questioned very easily, much less challenged and changed.

    As we worked with microfinance reviews and impact assessments, we became aware that most programmes and projects are drawn on the basis of an assumed understanding of the impact of microfinance programmes and also that the implementers are not comfortable when these assumptions are challenged. Yet, the voices that we hear from the field are certainly not the beautiful musical sounds orchestrated by the microfinance sector, they are actually a jarring cacophony that shocks, and so has been subdued. It is no surprise that women are hardly consulted, and if consulted, not heard. Participatory discussions say exactly what the implementing and donor agencies want to hear. The programmes and projects go on unchallenged, as if everything that is happening is on the right track; to question this is blasphemy, it is seen as turning away from all that is ‘advanced’ and ‘given knowledge’ or ‘best practice’ in the sector.

    Smita, as a former banker, reminded us of normal banking lessons again and again and questioned why the microfinance industry was bent upon rediscovering the wheel. We wondered why donors were pouring in so much money to learn what was already known in the lessons of the Indian banking sector about reaching or not reaching the poor. There were times when we wondered why the other external agencies did not hear what we heard from women.

    We are all committed to improving the lives of the poor; this is what brought us to the development field and this is what has retained us here. This gives us the courage to represent their views in every project that we take on; to use our professional expertise to guide them to become better entrepreneurs and leaders and to advise donors and implementing agencies to work in ways that would improve the lot of women.

    With regard to gender equality, we realise that it is both women and men who are responsible for making the society what it is, and any effort at changing the situation must involve both women and men. And yet, as of now, the world does not provide equal opportunities to women, much less poor women. Our endeavour is to make this world a bit fairer for women—even if it is only a little bit, because we believe that in the long run, every bit counts. In this sense, we are all clearly strong feminists.

    A question often asked about representing the issues of the poor is how can you represent poor women when you have yourself never experienced poverty? It is true that we are none of us poor now, but two of us have experienced poverty for certain periods in our lives. The dependence, humiliation and indignity experienced were enough to convince us that no one deserves to be poor. We have spent large portions of our time for the past 15 years living with people who are poor, sharing their life concerns and helping them overcome poverty.2 We have seen women caught up in very difficult situations arising out of their gender, situations that men are not subjected to, and have felt keenly the injustice of it all. Yet, we are conscious that we are not ourselves caught up in these circumstances. We do not claim our voice to be theirs. Our sole endeavour in this book is to try to represent their true voices, using the nuances of their language wherever possible, even though we realise that no translation can do justice to this. It must be borne in mind that we have tried our best to represent their perspectives, but these perspectives have passed through our individual and collective personalities, and to this end we have shared some part of our backgrounds that may have coloured the pictures we frame.

    One of the important aspects of this study is the value attached to women's own experiences. It was in the listening to them and in giving credence to their feelings and opinions that the span of the book expanded to cover macro-, meso- and micro-levels and external/institutional as well as local perspectives. It was while listening to the women that the divergence between their feelings and what the microfinance system provides to them first struck home, and this led to the motivation to ‘turn the telescope around’, or ‘to give voice to women's opinions’.

    Through this book, if we manage to communicate women's perspectives, have their life stories read and have their group experiences understood as a first step, and later ensure that some of their needs and preferences get greater consideration in the designing of development programmes and policy formulation, and that at least some implementing NGOs take steps to address these concerns arising from the women, then we would have fulfilled our responsibilities in representing their concerns.

    With regard to the detailed case studies, all women were given a choice about their participation; out of the 12 who were contacted, 10 participated. The research was introduced to each woman personally. They already knew that Sampark worked in 20 villages (40 villages in 2007) in Koppal with 120 women's groups (156 by 2007) and provided a range of support for group formation, training in management of groups, skill training, credit linkages and linkages for government grants. They were informed that if Sampark was to make a positive impact on the lives of rural people, it needed to understand rural people better. As it was not possible to work with all the women covered by Sampark for an in-depth understanding of their lives, only a few had been approached for this purpose. It was important that women did not feel obliged to participate because they would need to commit time for discussions.

    It was important that our discussions with women were not perceived as merely ‘getting information’ or the women ‘providing information’. The intention was to learn together about their lives through close mutual dialogue. This involved multiple visits to individual homes and farms and extended towards other family members too. If women felt a need to meet other participants, workshops were organised accordingly.

    The women who participated are referred to as ‘research participants’ and as ‘women case study participants’. The names of all the women have been changed to protect their real identity. Later, most were more comfortable with their ‘real names’ and photographs being used; however, given the sensitivity of working with devadasis, the more ethical (and also conventional) option was chosen.

    We believe that ethical research must return tangible benefits to the participants, which is aided by our long-term commitment to development and the intention to find ways of providing practical benefits to the local community from the research process. Several benefits accrued to the researchers, women participants and the local community.

    During the period when we interviewed them frequently, the women became more emotionally attached both to the process of sharing as well as to the researcher, and reportedly missed the ‘friendly meetings’ when the frequency of interactions reduced after the data collection phase. The researchers consciously found the time to continue meeting the women, despite other work engagements. These processes of sharing emotions and joint learning from life stories of women led to the building of relationships between the researchers and the women and motivated both to take more positive action to improve their own and other women's lives. These relationships and common values provide a foundation for freedom and enabling of women's agency. One striking realisation is that women could benefit from consolidated learning from their own past experiences and discussion of future aspirations. It was evident that despite being marginalised economically, socially, culturally and through religion, none had dedicated their own daughters as devadasis. Their life stories included courageous decisions at different stages of their lives, whether it related to choice of partners, birth control measures or taking financial risks. The incidents in their lives reinforced a belief in the capacity of poor women to bring positive changes not only in their own lives but also in those of others in their community. Researchers and development agents need to take more serious cognisance of the agency of women and their potential for courageous and collective action.

    The women claimed that they had benefited in several ways from participating in the research. The charts and diaries collected stayed with the women; the researchers only copied such information. Not only were the findings shared in workshops but also spreadsheets were brought back and openly discussed. This called for a reciprocal responsibility to ensure tangible benefits to the women research participants, which was later fulfilled by obtaining grants for educating the poorest children, a credit fund for education, local organisation building and linkages for official credit for sustainable management of land and water resources.

    Researchers and writers cannot escape from ethics even when applying a supposedly value-free research method. Whether at the moment of setting the research issue or when dealing with participant interactions, certain ethical choices are always present. Taking into account that development research forms part of the development agenda, it is necessary to decide how to balance the different expectations raised by the research process. Experience showed that compensating women individually for their cooperation in participating may have contradicted their own ethics and those of the facilitating NGO and researcher. An ethically acceptable solution to the dilemma could be found due to the NGO's institutional commitment, which allowed it to integrate the process of development research as a means for improving reciprocity between local and external actors through a better mutual understanding and efficient use of the capabilities and resources of all the actors involved. This in turn implies that research must select people and institutional partners who are willing and able to give continuity to the relationships.

    Collaborative action between external and local actors is not, however, always synchronous or can be made so: there remained continuing divergences. The researchers used an NGO as a base; and there were emerging divergences in women's perspectives and those of the NGO. One concerned the realisation that the NGO emphasised financial empowerment over other types of empowerment; hence, certain issues were not addressed directly, such as gender differentials in agricultural wages, child marriage practices, health and hygiene or the caste discrimination practices followed in the villages.

    The findings raise the question about the limits of microfinance. The NGO heeded this result and introduced education, mental health support and vocational training for women and their children, but encountered some resistance with respect to land-based income generating activities and sustainable agriculture. These raised a dilemma for the NGO: if they were to foster long-term ecological sustainability, this would demand working with the more endowed people in the villages, who controlled land ownership. The poor have a low ability to absorb productive credit and would need long time periods for impact and the development of new pathways. These issues were articulated and discussed within the NGO, which opted to continue to work with the marginalised sections, but also realised that this limited its potential for impact on livelihoods beyond the limited resources it could access for this target group via official and external agencies.

    This book spans issues from macro- to micro-level and accords priority to women as agents of change in their own livelihoods. Their participation and cooperation arose over time. These women perceive their situation not as a closed world from which there is no exit but as a limiting situation, which they can nevertheless transform. The discussions with them have had the effect of providing more ‘liberating’ education, with women expressing their situations of being marginalised and then making efforts to release themselves from the financial and physical dominance that they face in their households.

    While we have been writing this book, several studies covering SHGs have been conducted to understand group dynamics better. At the policy level, two of us were invited to examine empowerment impacts of microfinance policy and programmes and to help design microfinance programmes that enhance women's empowerment. We would like to thank the four private foundations who have extended support for livelihood initiatives for women's empowerment in Koppal: the Fondazione Pangea Onlus, Italy; Anuradha Foundation, USA; Volkart Vision India, New Delhi and Canadian High Commission, New Delhi. This helped honour the commitment to meet the expressed needs of poor women: education for children, skills training for employment or enterprise for school dropouts and community-based emotional counselling support through women's SHGs. These linkages have helped us experience trans-disciplinarity, that is, linking research and action in a mutually reinforcing learning cycle.3

    SmitaPremchander, V.Prameela, M.Chidambaranathan, L.Jeyaseelan

    1. These principles are outlined by Pini (2003) in her feminist research methodology.

    2. Smita is a founder member of Sampark, since 1991, and Jeyaseelan, Chidambaranathan and Prameela joined in 1994. So we have worked together for 14 years till now.

    3. See Hurni et al., (2004) and Hirsch (2006) for detailed elaboration of the concept of trans-disciplinarity. While inter-disciplinarity refers to working together with different disciplines (for example, social, economic), trans-disciplinarity deals with the blurring and crossing of the researcher–participant boundaries.


    Our first and deepest commitment is to 10 women in the villages of Koppal district whose lives and livelihoods we studied and all the rural women in various states of India who, despite their poverty, shared with us the wealth of information that we sought. They revealed the details of their poverty, troubles and concerns, coping strategies, ways and preferences about using money and experiences of groups and NGO-delivered credit. Studying the lives of poor women, especially the devadasis, who are dedicated to the deity and make sexual alliances with men for economic reasons, has been a depressing journey. Even women who were economically better off had problems; one lost her son, one her husband, while another faced domestic violence. These women were generous enough to share details about their own and their family's lives so that others could learn. Theirs is a debt we can only repay by helping others like them.

    Dr Pat Richardson's technical guidance, Dr John Ritchie's insights on the current context of microfinance and the unstinting support of Professor Dr Urs Wiesmann, Professor Dr Hans Hurni and Dr Stephan Rist on livelihoods conceptual frameworks and social learning processes are acknowledged with gratitude.

    We thank the Centre for Development and Environment (CDE), Institute of Geography, University of Berne, for providing financial support for the fieldwork through its research programme, Social Learning for Sustainability and National Centre for Competence in Research-North-South (NCCR-NS). The research programmes were funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), whom we would like to thank for the financial support for the research and for some of the ensuing needs for development support in the research villages.

    We wish to thank all colleagues at CDE and NCCR-NS, particulary Professor Dr Urs Wiesmann and Dr Stephan Rist who provided us with guidance and inputs and feedback on the book for their valuable guidance and suggestions in doing case studies and narrative analysis. We would like to thank them and others.

    The Sampark team was open and flexible in providing all the information that the organisation had about the groups and their financial and non-financial operations. Access to the data of Sampark's Koppal office was facilitated by Nirmala, Rajshekhar, Akkamma, Iramma and Uma. We are thankful to each one of them for their assistance during this research. Roshni Menon helped us with the literature survey. Our heartfelt thanks also goes to Raju, Meenakshi, Banu, Saumya and Deepa for all the office assistance.

    Language corrections and editing continued to be a major undertaking through the whole process, which were dealt by M. Rajshekhar, Saumya Premchander, Ratan Gopinath, Karuna Sivasailam and Jason Klinck, to whom we remain thankful.

    Part of the data in this book was collected during field visits for organisations engaged with supporting microfinance, namely Friends of Women's World Banking, CARE India and United Nations Office of Project Services/International Fund for Agricultural Development. These organisations not only provided us with all the grey data they could but also permitted the use of the information. The staff of NGOs/MFIs shared valuable insights on their experiences, dilemmas and inner conflicts in the implementation of microfinance programmes. We are grateful to all of them for being so open as the book has benefited greatly from their rich insights.

    Over the past several years, we have been simultaneously engaged in both research and development work to enable the poor improve their livelihoods. It has changed the ‘normal’ family way of life. We could do this only because of the emotional encouragement and support from our families and we are immensely grateful to them.

  • Appendix 1: Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs): Details and Impact Literature

    Field Visits

    During the research period, several non-governmental organisations (NGOs) were visited for conducting impact studies, reviews and livelihoods and group assessments. The details are listed in Table A1.1.

    Table A1.1 Overview of Field Visits

    The details of several visits made to groups, women and NGOs outside the study area, through conferences, workshops and group settings, is listed in Table A1.2.

    Table A1.2 Number of NGOs, Groups and Women Visited

    These reviews of impact studies and field level discussions with a wide range of institutional and local stakeholders in microfinance helped clarify the divergences that existed in perceptions and perspectives, and thus formed the basis of the delineation of the research themes as outlined in Chapter 2.

    Literature Reviewed Indicators and Tools

    During the research period, several impact studies were reviewed to get an overview of the aspects studied, the methodologies, tools and the indicators used by them for impact assessments. 20 impact studies, of which 18 were donor initiated, are listed in Table A1.3.

    Table A1.3 Review of Selected Microfinance Impact Assessment Studies

    Many of the earlier studies used several participatory tools that helped to analyse one or more aspects of microfinance impact. A listing of the major tools is given in Table A1.4.

    Table A1.4 Tools
    • Internal learning systems
    • Loan and savings use
    • Action learning workshops
    • Decision-making matrix
    • Means test
    • Gender division of labour and resources mapping
    • Impact survey
    • Mobility mapping
    • Exit survey
    • Happiness mapping
    • Focus group discussions
    • Caste discrimination mapping
    • In-depth interviews
    • Chapatti diagramming
    • Impact survey
    • Wealth ranking
    • Client exit survey
    • Pictorial diary
    • Client satisfaction survey
    • Diagrams
    • Client empowerment survey
    • Life story interview
    Source: Authors.

    These tools were compiled from 69 studies, which ranged from impact studies of specific projects to methodological reviews. They included AFC (2005), AIMS (1998, 2001), Andharia et al. (2003), ASA (1999, 2000), Atkinson (2004), Baumgartner et al., (2000), Bayes (1999), Blank (1998), BRAC (1997, 1999), Burra et al. (2005), CASHPOR (2001), CCA (2000), Centre for Management Development (2003), CETZAM (1999, 2000), Chen and Snodgrass (1999), Cheston and Khun (2001), Cheston and Reed (1999), CMF (2001), Copestake (1996, 2003), CYSD (1996), Dasgupta (2007), Deshpande et al., (2003), FWWB (2001), Grameen Bank (1998), Guijit and Cornwall (1995), Harper (1998), ICMC and PRIZMA (2000), Jeyaseelan (2005), Johnson (2003), Malhotra (2006), Mayoux (1997, 1999, 2001, 2003a, 2003b, 2003c), Menon (2003), Murthy et al., (2002), MYRADA (2001), National Labour Academy-Nepal (2006), Nigam and Manowar (1998), Noponen (2003), Padia (2005), PRADAN (1997, 2006), Premchander (2003b, 2005, 2006), Premchander and Prameela (2007), Proshika (1998, 2002), Rajshekar (2007), Roche (1999), Sampark (2000, 2006a), Schürmann (2002), SHARE (2001), Singh (2006), Sinha and Patole (2003), Solution Exchange (2006), Srinivasan (2004), Srinivasan and Castro (2003), TBF (2002), UNDP (1997, 2002), Wilson (2004).

    NGOs in Koppal District

    The NGOs working in Koppal district are listed in Table A1.5.

    Table A1.5 List of NGOs in Koppal District
    S. No.Name of the NGO
    1Bharatiya Agro Industries Foundation (BAIF)
    2Chetana Foundation
    4Guru Shikashana
    5Institute for Rural Development and Education Society
    6Jnana Bharati Education Society
    7Mahila Samakya
    8Manju Shree
    9Olekar Education Society
    11Pastoral Service Institute
    16Swayam Krutha Sangha
    19Bimarao Grameen Abivirti Seva Sangha
    20Bapuji Grameen Abivirti Seva Sangha
    21Minority Rural Development Society
    Source: Authors.

    The last four NGOs started operations in Koppal in 2007. Two (Ekalavya and VIKASA) have closed their office in Koppal after the completion of Swashakti, a World Bank programme. Out of 21, seven NGOs (BAIF, Outreach, Manju Shree, Mahila Samakya, Amma, Bimarao Grameen Abivirti Seva Sangha and Minority Rural Development Society) work at district level and they do not have office in Koppal, the remaining 14 NGOs are working only in Koppal taluk.

    Appendix 2: Livelihoods Frameworks

    Sustainable Livelihoods Frameworks

    A study of any intervention's impact on people's livelihoods needs to recognize the broader context in which actors develop their livelihoods strategies. The Sustainable Livelihoods Framework (SLF) defines secure livelihoods as the existence of sufficient stocks and flows of food and cash to meet basic needs (Chambers and Conway 1992). It was developed through Department for International Development's (DFID's) field-based work at both the macro- and household-level of livelihoods. It has since been utilised in planning several development projects and for assessing development impacts (Farrington et al., 1999). Its key assumptions are that actors pursue a range of different livelihoods outcomes (for example, health, income, reduced vulnerability) by drawing on a range of assets as they pursue a variety of activities.

    The approach identifies five types of capital assets: financial, human, natural, physical and social. It conceptualises improved livelihoods outcomes in terms of increased income, increased well being, reduced vulnerability, improved food security and/or more sustainable use of the natural resource base of an area. A diagrammatic presentation is given in Figure A2.1.

    Figure A2.1 Sustainable Livelihoods Framework

    However, this framework does not explain the perspectives of the actors and why they follow the strategies they do, which is aided by the actor-oriented perspective (AOP) framework.

    The AOP framework has its origins in peasant and actor network theories, and uses rational economic theory as an entry point. It assumes that actors always try to do something that fulfils their livelihoods aims. This approach perceives actors as:

    Actors in an arena of interdependent and interacting individuals or categories of actors. They interpret specific features of the ecosystem and the socio-economic and socio-cultural systems, and they act competently and rationally on the basis of their specific knowledge, as a function of their values, motives and expectations of utility. An understanding of regional dynamics and potential conflicts in rural development and environmental care must consequently be approached in connection with divergent strategies, perceptions and assessments of the respective individuals and collectives. (Kuenzi et al.,1998: 54)

    It considers actors as individual households and also as groups within economic, socio-cultural, legal and ecological systems and their livelihoods strategies arising from their knowledge of these contexts as also from their value base and aspirations.1Figure A2.2 depicts this framework:

    Figure A2.2 AOP Framework

    The AOP framework, which lies alongside the SLF, prioritises the actors themselves and also provides conceptual links with social, ecological and political contexts. It goes beyond SLF in conceptualising actor groups as units that devise strategies together. However, the action theory frameworks can also neglect:

    The orientations and preferences that inform whole sequences of action, the structures built from combinations of such sequences, the ways in which the actors themselves are configured. The action theory framework offers little purchase for establishing the patterns on which various actions converge and which they initiate and dynamically extend. It shines the analytical torch upon the strategies and interests and interactive accomplishments of individuals, and sometimes groups. While this yields important insights into how agents generate and negotiate certain outcomes, it offers no dividends on the machineries of knowing in which these agents play a part. Knorr Cetina (1999: 9)

    Although this framework recognises the social and ethical dimension of action, it can leave the emotional or affective (psychological) dimensions relatively unexplored.

    The Mandala is based on a home, which is used as a metaphor to study the broader, more abstract notion of a livelihoods system. It may employ different symbolisms in different cultures but is like a lens with nine focal points through which the actualities become more distinctly visible. The Mandala conceptualises livelihoods in nine squares, each denoting one aspect, as depicted in Figure A2.3.

    Figure A2.3 Rural Livelihood Systems Nine-square Mandala Framework

    The bottom row represents its foundation. This includes the physical, emotional, knowledge and activity bases. The physical basis refers to all the resources, economic and natural, available, the accumulated wealth and remittances from migrant members, and so on. The physical basis includes the natural environment and resources, and knowledge and activity basis refers to the crafts, trades, skills and traditional knowledge of the actors themselves. The emotional basis encompasses the feelings, emotional attachments and the sense of belonging actors feel towards their home. The knowledge and activity basis refers to the crafts, trades, skills and traditional knowledge.

    The middle row delineates the different spaces in society; Indian socio-economic space comprises the several caste hierarchies, the panchayat and relations with government, neighbourhoods. The family space deals with gender relations, seniority within generations, distribution of workload and finally the inner human or intimate space encompassing personal awareness, integrity and responsibility. The uppermost row deals with all the mental/collective perspectives that shape and guide actor strategies, including the collective, family and the individual orientations. While societal rules and family values govern general behaviour patterns, revolutionary change could originate from one strong leader only. The Mandala depicts the ‘outer’ and the ‘inner’, creating an awareness of both the physical and psychic constituents of all livelihoods systems. From the bottom to the top of the Mandala is the transition from the physical and emotional basis to the mental apex, making it a heuristic tool that recognises the multidimensional reality of a livelihoods system and alerts researchers/practitioners to certain conflicts which arise in development (Högger 2003).

    The use of three frameworks allows for person-centred, multi-levelled and flexible approaches to help understand the complexity and diversity of rural livelihoods and also enable movement beyond rational economic thinking to in-depth analysis of inner realities of women and their experiences. All three approaches explicitly acknowledge that to minimise or avoid risk, actors tend to develop multiple strategies for their livelihoods. They take cognisance of the dynamic and holistic nature of the processes and structures that influenced and shaped livelihoods. Thus, the frameworks are potentially flexible, adaptive and relational.


    1. For different applications of AOPs across country contexts, see Kuenzi et al., (1998: 54), Ludi (2004), Messerli (2004) and Wiesmann (1998).


    AmavaseNew moon night
    Amrith AmavaseNew moon night in February
    Ashraya maneShelter—a house given by the government
    Avaralli Hechu Rokka ithiHe has lot of money
    BaananthanaRecovery period after delivery, normally observed for 40 days
    BaddiInterest on loan
    BaksaBox money
    Basava JayanthiA festival in May
    BasaviThe local term for devadasi, meaning a woman with no restriction for having sexual relations
    BeediLocal cigarette
    Bhagya JyothiA government scheme, for free electricity to the poor families
    Billi muthuA chain of white pearls
    BindiA decorative round spot worn on woman's forehead
    Block/TalukA group of 40–80 villages, which form an administration unit of 6–8 panchayats
    BundSoil and water conservation structures, usually 2–3 feet-high walls built of stone and soil
    CoolieCasual human labour
    DaiLocal nurse and midwife
    DalitPeople belonging to lower caste
    Dalit Seva SanghaA membership-based organisation of Dalits
    DasarHindu sub-caste
    DeepawaliFestival of lights
    Deerga Avadhi SalaLong-term loan
    DevadasiWomen who have been dedicated to the local deity and are not allowed to marry, but can have sexual alliances with men
    DhalaliBroker/a private lender
    Duddu, Rokka, HanaMoney
    Finance SalaShort-term loan
    GaleammaHindu goddess
    Ganga Kalyana YojaneA government scheme
    Gouda, GowdaLandlord/head of a village
    Gram PanchayatA group of 6–10 villages forming an administrative unit and having elected local representatives at village level
    Hammali SanghaPorter's union
    Hani Hani Koodidare Halla, Thene Thene Koodidare RashiSmall drops of water make a mighty ocean
    Hechu Rokka BekuNeed lot of money
    HingariLate monsoon
    HoligeSweet made with flour and jaggery
    JamkhaneA thick bedsheet or bedcover
    Janatha ManeHouse constructed as a part of government-subsidised scheme for people living below the poverty line
    JangamaruHindu sub-caste (grazing cattle and trading milk is the main occupation of these people)
    JathreMela, fair
    Janatha houseA house built under government scheme
    Jhakammana kadagaA bangle worn for religious regions
    JogammaLady priest
    KaigadaA loan with no interest on it; can be repaid whenever there is money in hand
    KankanaThread tied during marriage around the bride/groom's forehead
    Kari kalluBlack stone
    Karthik AmavaseNew moon night in December
    KasutiHand embroidery
    KowdisLocal thick bedsheet
    KurubaHindu sub-caste (general caste of shepherds, rearing sheep and goats)
    Lagna maadidhaneArranged the marriages
    LingayatGeneral caste
    MadarHindu sub-caste (scheduled caste [SC])
    Madhyama Avadhi SalaMedium-term loan
    Mannethina AmavaseNew moon night in July
    MarataHindu sub-caste (OBC)
    MungadaCash advance without interest
    MungariEarly monsoon
    MuthuA chain made of white and red beads
    NaaligeA pendant of a female goddess's tongue
    Nagar PanchamiA festival to worship snake God
    NammadudduOur money
    Nanage Ondu Savira Rupai Sala KodiGive me a loan of Rs 1,000 ($22.22)
    Nanna Maga Nanage Hola IddahangeMy son is my biggest property, like land
    Novodaya schoolSubsidised school provided by the government for meritorious children
    OddaruStone cutter
    PanchamiA festival in August
    PanchayatA group of 6–10 villages forming an administrative unit and having elected local representatives
    PinjarSub-caste of Muslim
    RathikuliFamily granary
    ReddyHindu sub-caste (general caste)
    RottiA bread, made with jowar flour
    SampathuWealth, asset
    SamsaraSexual relationship
    SantheA local market
    SaraiLocal alcohol
    SC keriStreet of the SCs
    ShavkarLandlord/money lender in a village
    Stree ShaktiWomen's empowerment project funded by central government
    SulagiA local derogatory term, meaning prostitute
    Taluk PanchayatA group of 6–10 panchayats forming an administrative unit and having elected the representatives at the taluk level
    TalwarHindu sub-caste (scheduled tribes)
    UgadiNew year celebrated by Hindu people
    UndiA sweet prepared with jaggery, groundnut, oil and rice
    Vathi SalaLoans given against security of land, jewels, and so on.
    VijayadashmiA Hindu festival in which people worship goddess Durga
    Yellu AmavaseNew moon night in January


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    About the Authors

    Smita Premchander is the founder and secretary of Sampark and has 25 years of experience in development work. She has been a trainer and consultant for gender, microfinance and micro-enterprise—both in India and internationally. Her expertise relates to evaluation and design of effective and pro-poor development projects, spanning grassroots development, organisational and programme issues and policy change. She completed a short term assignment with the International Labor Office (ILO), Geneva, as a specialist in Impact Evaluation for Job Creation and Enterprise Development. She has completed about 19 impact and evaluation studies combining both quantitative and qualitative methodologies, for different agencies such as United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Delhi; Enterplan, UK; ILO, Delhi and Geneva; Centre for Development and Environment (CDE), University of Berne, Switzerland; FAO of the United Nations, Bangkok; United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), Bangkok; United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), Malaysia, Traidcraft, UK; Department for International Development (DFID), Bangladesh and Delhi; Swiss Development Corporation, Delhi; CARE India, New Delhi; Novib, Netherlands; National Dairy Development Board (NDDB), Bangalore and Anand; World Bank, Washington and Universities of Sterling, Durham and Swansea, UK. She has worked in most states in India, including Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Assam, Meghalaya and Mizoram.

    V. Prameela is a micro enterprise and livelihood specialist with 15 years of experience and has conducted various impact and evaluation studies. She has worked as a livelihood and micro-enterprise consultant for national and international clients of International Labor Organization such as (ILO), CARE–India (Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh); FAO of the United Nations, Bangkok; Christian Aid, New Delhi; World Bank and NDDB, Bangalore and UNOPS, Malaysia. She also works as a trainer and counsellor in enterprise development and conducted several enterprise development-training programmes for both front line staff and directly for women at the grassroots level. She is working with Sampark, an NGO based in Bangalore and coordinates projects on rural livelihood; running day care non-formal education centres for children of migrant families and community-based mental health programmes. She is also involved in developing proposals and fund-raising.

    M. Chidambaranathan is a development professional engaged in consultancy and grassroots- based projects through an NGO based in Bangalore. His areas of expertise include sustainable rural livelihood systems, microfinance, people's organisations, gender and leadership, natural resource management and social learning process. The nature of assignments he has conducted over 15 years for both national and international agencies span research, participatory impact and evaluation studies, designing impact monitoring systems, training NGO staff, strategy planning for development projects, fund-raising and coordination of field-based poverty reduction and women's empowerment projects. He is author/co-author for more than 15 articles published in national and international journals.

    L. Jeyaseelan has Masters' degree in Social Work and has been engaged with development projects for over 15 years. His areas of expertise include children's education, microfinance, enterprise development and capacity building of people's organisations. Currently he is working with Sampark, an NGO based in Bangalore as a programme manager for its rural development project in Koppal. Here he has been involved in managing programmes such as microfinance, micro-enterprise, health, children's education, vocational training and development of people's institutions. He was involved in several participatory research and impact evaluation studies conducted for both national and international agencies. He also writes which have been articles, published in journals and reports.

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