Digitising information on local self-help groups (SHGs) and uploading it in a web-based portal is turning out to be a difficult task in the state with host of issues slowing down the process.
Only around 470 SHGs are on the road to digitisation out of over 7,500 groups in the state, according to National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), which has undertaken the initiative.
An official at NABARD said that the progress is slow with animators (volunteers) having to make field visits to collect information and facing hurdles from SHG members themselves who are reluctant to share information. He said that only 170 SHGs have been digitised so far and information on another 300 groups is ready to be uploaded. “The state’s SHGs, although large in volume lack access to formal banking,” he said adding that around 2,055 SHGs out of 7,500 are credit-linked.
The digitisation process involves collating data on the group members, their activities, total income, financial health etc and linking Aadhar and mobile numbers with bank accounts. The information will be digitally stored in a web-based portal and accessible only to stakeholders – banks, financial institutions and government departments.
NABARD has entrusted the task of collating data to the Mineral Foundation of Goa and the Tata Energy Research Institute (TERI).
Speaking to this daily, officials at the two agencies said that lack of awareness on the purpose of digitisation was one of the main reasons for the reluctance in sharing information.
Sachin Tendulkar, programme manager, Mineral Foundation of Goa, said that group members are apprehensive about sharing sensitive information on bank account number and finances. Tendulkar suggested that bank managers who deal with the SHGs should regularly advise group leaders on the benefits of digitalisation. “Having branch managers put in a word would help in confidence-building of group members,” said Tendulkar. Most of the SHGs in Goa are women groups and engaged in making food products and other items. They are largely unorganised and face issues of poor account-keeping and lack of business knowledge.
Rajeev Narayan, NABARD, Goa, said that digitisation will help SHGs in getting finance at concessional rates through government schemes and other types of support. “For stakeholders like banks, it will give easy access to data such as financial health at the time of granting loans,” he said.
NABARD, through its E-shakti project, has commenced digitisation of all SHGs in the country. The project is in its third phase. SHGs in 50 districts of different states were digitised in phase 1 and 2 and in the third phase, SHGs in another 50 districts are earmarked.