July 03, 2011
Already Half-Way Through!
It is high time for an update from me, since it's hitting me that I am only here for a little over four more weeks. In my last post, I said a little bit about what it is like living here, how I have found it interesting to understand the relationship that development NGOs here have with the idea of micro-finance that westerners and everyone really has heard so much about. In this post, I'll talk about what I have been doing with EduCARE, what I have been researching and learning while I've been here, and what the plan is for these few weeks that I have left.
The non-governmental organization that I chose to work with, EduCARE India, is relatively young and has some problems with organizational efficiency and human resources. The majority of its social programs and development is performed by international interns/employees that are only here for a year or two at the most. The transition process has not been perfected, so for a large part, when someone comes to work for EduCARE, they end up planning and determining their own work projects. This means that many mistakes are made, and EduCARE's micro-finance projects have been no exception.
This past Thursday, I was able to sit down with the project director of EduCARE in Punjab, Mr. Bhullar, and the operations manager, a woman who has been involved in research about Self Help Groups in the villages around here. I learned more details about what I have read about in documents and reports. Past interns have designed micro-finance schemes, found them successful from the get-go, and become over-confident. Mr. Bhullar has tried to push the direction toward different forms of micro-finance than simply lending to a list of clients. There is something that he calls Integrated Microfinance for Micro-Enterprise and Livelihood Sustenance as well as something called ROSCA, rotating savings and credit association.
EduCARE has a focus currently on specifically assisting the sustainable development of marginalized communities within Punjab, since it is a relatively wealthy area. Those who need the most assistance here are not the general population but groups like poorer women, migrant communities, and another group called the Rag-pickers. This latter group are marginalized because their profession is lowly and not very profitable even though it is their best option for sustenance: separating recyclable plastic from all other trash and selling it to recycling middle-men in the city. Anyway, since this is EduCARE's focus, it seeks to use micro-finance as a tool toward assisting these groups, and learning the details of this strategy continues to be very interesting, and I am learning about other NGOs in the area that do similar, if slightly different things.
The plan for the next few weeks is to do a lot more analysis of EduCARE from an outside perspective, trying to understand how it fits in to the incredibly huge web of other NGOs as well as government programs designed to help the same people that EduCARE seeks to help.
PS I am just realizing that this post wasn't very fun and didn't tell much about my activities and experiences. I'll try to tell about some of that next time!
Posted by jomartha at July 3, 2011 11:48 AM