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Kudumbashree National Resource Organisation (KS-NRO)

Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD), Government of India recognised Kudumbashree as a National Resource Organisation (KS-NRO) under the National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM) in 2013. KS-NRO is expected to provide technical and implementation assistance to the State Rural Livelihood Missions (SRLMs) that partner with it. KS-NRO started functioning in May 2013. It is based in Thiruvananthapuram, the State capital of Kerala.

KS-NRO works with partner-SRLMs on two domains.

  • Making Panchayat Raj Institutions (PRIs) and Community Based Organisations (CBOs) work together (PRI-CBO Convergence)
  • Enterprise Development

The purpose of the PRI-CBO Convergence Project is to enable the poor in understanding their entitlements, accessing them, and in enhancing their participation on local governance.

The Enterprise Development project focuses on creating community-based enterprise support systems at the local level in the form of Micro Enterprise Consultants (MECs) for helping poor people set up and run their own enterprises.

KS-NRO – Guiding Principle

KS-NRO’s guiding principle is to create local as well as State-level capabilities for the implementation of large scale projects. The NRO works on developing pilots in different States; the partner States are expected to take these forward based on the experiences of the pilots.

Four tenets of NRO’s approach to the projects in partner States:

  1. Developing proof of concept
  2. Building local capacities
  3. Mentoring
  4. Professional support

Developing Proof of Concept

NRO draws from the Kudumbashree experience to develop suitable approaches for specific contexts in partner States. The context here could be a district, a Block, or a GramPanchayat. Pilot projects help NRO and the partner-SRLM in contextualising the content and method.

Building Local Capacities

NRO focuses on building local level resource pools in partner States. The approach is based on the belief that local people know their community the best and that a strong local cadre would ensure sustainability of project activities. The PRI-CBOConvergence Project develops Local Resource Groups (LRGs) and Block Resource Groups (BRGs). In Enterprises Project, it is Micro Enterprise Consultants (MECs) who form the local cadre.

Mentoring

Mentors are select resource persons from the Kudumbashree network placed in partner States. These are people with several years of experience, specially selected and trained for the programmes. These resource persons stay long term in the project areas and work with the local cadre and communities. Enterprises project has Master MECs as mentors; in the PRI-CBO convergence project, they are called mentor resource persons (Mentor RPs).

Professional Support

Ensuring the back end support from experienced and trained professionals to mentors and local resource persons is part of the KS-NRO approach. KS-NRO has a team drawn from reputed educational institutions across India and trained in Kudumbashree.

NRO Partnerships

States that NRO has partnered with:

  • For Enterprises and PRI-CBO convergence
    • Five States: Jharkhand, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Sikkim
  • For PRI-CBO convergence
    • Two States: Assam, Odisha
  • For Enterprises
    • Two States: Bihar, Gujarat

Thus, NRO is working in seven States each on the convergence and enterprises project. Assam and Odisha has convergence project only while Bihar and Gujarat have only enterprises project. Five States have both the projects.

 

 

The PRI-CBO Convergence Project is an attempt to enhance convergence between Panchayat Raj Institutions (PRIs) and Community Based Organisation (CBO). The project uses centrally sponsored schemes as entry points for strengthening the CBO-PRI interface.

 

Project Rationale

  • Increasing the efficiency and reach of poor-centric programmes
  • Better participatory planning by panchayats together with the community organisation network
  • Increased capability of CBOs to demand entitlements
  • Democratically conscious community to help strengthen and sustain local government institutions

Project Goals

  • Initiate processes that would ensure that the benefits under various entitlements and schemes accrue to members of SHGs under NRLM
  • Strengthen women’s participation in local self-government processes
  • Contribute towards making the panchayat raj system more responsive towards the needs of the society, particularly women
  • Help develop a cadre of community professionals to work with community institutions and local governments to strengthen capabilities of convergence
  • Women, armed with knowledge on their entitlements and information on the various schemes that they can benefit from, and an awareness on the process of local level planning by PRIs, can influence the PRI system and the way development schemes work.
  • Women’s active participation, as per experience from Kerala, has improved the effectiveness of the local level planning; PRIs and their processes gain strength through the process.

The PRI-CBO convergence project envisages

  • Providing organisational and functional capacity building to the leaders of CBOs and PRIs
  • Strengthening CBOs to engage with PRIs to address the special needs of the poor and the marginalised

NRLM has developed a results framework for assessing the achievements of thePRI-CBO convergence projects taken up by SRLMs with Kudumbashree support.

The Results Framework for Convergence

Project Activity Results

To measure the results in terms of outputs that the key activities seek to deliver

Governance Process Improvement

To measure improvements made in the quality of governance processes related to functioning of the PRI, gram sabha, and CBOs

Household Benefit Results

To measure results accruing due to actual implementation of schemes influencing livelihoods and social security of the poor families

Project Activity Results

  • Number and proportion of PRI representatives trained
  • Number and proportion of elected women representatives trained
  • Number and proportion of SHG members trained
  • Number and proportion of VO leaders trained
  • Number of LRG members trained
  • Proportion of LRG members active at the end of the pilot project
  • Number of new SHGs formed
  • Number of defunct SHGs revived
  • Number of new VOs formed
  • Number of GPs and blocks taken up by SRLM for replication of pilots

Governance Process Improvement

State Policy Gram Sabha CBO Level Processes
State government to come up with policy guidelines and operational frameworks for convergence in tune with the NRLM convergence framework
  •  Promotion of women SHG members among gram sabha attendees
  • Number of SHGs attendinggram sabha with prior preparation on agenda items
  • Number of sub committees of gram sabha meeting regularly and contributing to agenda discussions in gram sabha
  • Number of SHGs incorporating the entitlement agenda into their regular meetings
  • Number of GPs where co-terminus platforms for CBO-PRI linkage formed
  • Number of GPs where co-terminus platforms for CBO-PRI linkage meet regularly
Gram Panchayat    
Incorporation of CBO members into sub committees and their attendance in regular meetings    

 

Household Benefit Results

(Indicative list; to be customised for each State)

MGNREGS

  • Number of SHG families with job cards
  • Number of SHG families that have demanded work
  • Number of SHG families that have obtained work
  • Average number of work days availed by SHG families
  • Number of works implemented of the total demanded by SHGs
  • Unemployment allowance demanded by SHG members
  • Unemployment allowance paid to SHG members
  • Proportion of women among MGNRES workers
  • Community assets demanded in plan, incorporated in plan, and created through implementation of under MGNREGS

NBA/SBA

  • Number of SHG families having built IHHL
  • Number of SHG families using IHHLs built under NBA
  • Number of toilets in anganwadis and schools built under NBA
  • Community toilets – constructed, used and managed

Social Security

  • Number of eligible SHG women / families availing benefits under various social security/ pension schemes (NSAP/RSBY)

ICDS

  • Number of days when anganwadi centre is open and food is provided
  • Enrolment of eligible infants/ children in anganwadi centres and actual attendance
  • Number of anganwadis where operations are monitored by SHG
  • Number of eligible SHG women / family members getting IFA tablets
  • Number of eligible infants covered under immunisation

Convergence Project – Process

 

 

CBO-PRI Convergence Projects - States

The project are already well underway in 17 districts in six States; the project has just been initiated in Sikkim.

 

 

Support from State Government Departments

  • Overall guidance and support for the projects in pilot blocks
    • Instructions to block level functionaries for participation
    • Instructions to facilitate participation of SHGs and federations in gram sabha
    • Constitution of sub committees of gram panchayats, gram sabha for integration of planning and monitoring jointly with CBO structure
  • Convergence with training plans of SIRD
    • Inclusion of PRI-CBO convergence and a topic for training of PRI representatives and functionaries
    • Use of trained cadre from the project as resource persons at appropriate levels

 

The PRI-CBO convergence project is implemented in seven States with diverse contexts in terms of the state of the PRIs and CBOs. The seven States where the PRI-CBO convergence project is under implementation are

  1. Assam
  2. Jharkhand
  3. Karnataka
  4. Maharashtra
  5. Odisha
  6. Rajasthan
  7. Sikkim

Among these States, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Sikkim have been better performers in terms of devolution of powers to their panchayat raj institutions. Assam has been lagging in devolution while Rajasthan had had moderate extent of devolution.

According to the Devolution Index used by the Ministry of Panchayati Raj (MoPR) to measure the extent and effectiveness of devolution, Kerala has been one of the leading States. As per the latest report available, complied by Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Kerala remained at the top in most of the indices used. The TISS study attempted to measure and rank States according to their achievements in three core aspects of devolution, i.e., devolution of functions, functionaries, and finances to PRIs.

The study also attempted to assess the comparative achievement of States in establishing systems of infrastructure, governance, and transparency (IGT). IGT covered availability of infrastructure such as buildings, ICT infrastructure, other amenities, systems for governance like book keeping, upkeep of minutes and mechanisms that ensure openness and accountability in functioning that are crucial for effectiveness of PRIs.

The aggregate index of devolution in policy adjusted against practice takes into account the achievements of each State on functions, functionaries, and finances, and IGT as reproduced in the State data sets, and how these achievements are actually reflected in sample PRIs in the field by fine-tuning the value of each dimension in policy with its equivalent practice. The dimensions of the adjusted index are computed by taking the arithmetic mean of the respective indices of the devolution in policy and practice.

States

Policy Index

Rank – Policy Index

Practice Index

Rank – Practice Index

Adjusted Index

Rank

Assam

0.29

22

0.45

6

0.37

13

Jharkhand

0.32

19

0.27

21

0.29

22

Karnataka

0.58

2

0.52

3

0.55

3

Maharashtra

0.57

3

0.49

4

0.53

4

Odisha

0.41

9

0.39

12

0.40

10

Rajasthan

0.47

7

0.38

14

0.43

7

Sikkim

0.57

4

0.55

2

0.56

2

Kerala

0.75

1

0.79

1

0.77

1

Index of devolution in policy used data collected from State level departments of panchayat raj. Indicators used reflect the State’s policy commitment to devolve responsibilities and resource to the panchayats. The indicators included functions, functionaries, and finances officially allocated to the panchayats, and the infrastructure and governance structures created for smooth functioning of panchayat operations.

  • Among the lead performing States in terms of devolution in policy, Sikkim was the best after Kerala in devolution of functions
  • In the case of transfer of functionaries to PRIs, Sikkim, Assam, Maharashtra have been a lead performer
  • Karnataka ranked above Kerala in terms of the funds devolved to the PRIs
  • In infrastructure, governance and transparency (IGT), Karnataka and Sikkim were better off.

Ranks of the seven States in devolving functions, functionaries, and finances and in ensuring infrastructure, governance and transparency are shown in the following table. Rank 1 means a lead State, higher figures mean progressively lower level of devolution and achievements.

States

Functions

Functionaries

Finances

IGT

Aggregate

Assam

10

3

10

13

6

Jharkhand

23

15

22

22

21

Karnataka

2

6

1

6

3

Maharashtra

11

4

2

8

4

Odisha

19

12

12

9

12

Rajasthan

21

7

23

11

14

Sikkim

3

2

13

3

2

Kerala

1

1

3

1

1

Thus, the NRO team has been working in States with diverse extent of devolution in terms of functions, functionaries, and finance; the extent of devolution to the different tiers of the PRI system has also been dissimilar across States.

States

Functions

Functionaries

Finances

Assam

Only 7 subjects have been devolved to gram panchayats by six departments. Activity mapping has been completed for 23 subjects.

Very minimum devolution of functionaries; officials report to their respective departments.

PRIs are empowered to collect taxes but cannot enforce. Main sources of revenue include lease rent from markets, river banks, and ponds.

Jharkhand Elections to the PRIs have been held in 2010 for the first time since constitutional amendments. Activity mapping not yet initiated.    

Karnataka

Karnataka has delegated all 29 subjects to PRIs by notifying activity mapping.

Panchayats employees function under dual control of their respective departments and PRIs.

PRIs collect 7 types of taxes. PR Act provides for mandatory transfer of untied funds to PRIs.

Maharashtra

Eleven subjects have been fully devolved. For the remaining 18 subjects, PRIs implement the schemes.

Class III and Class IV employees at all levels are on the rolls of District Panchayats.

District panchayats and gram panchayats collect taxes. Grants for 11 departments have been transferred to PRIs.

Odisha

Eleven departments have devolved 21 subjects.

Officials of 11 departments are accountable to PRIs.

PRIs collect 6 types of taxes. There has been no clear devolution of untied funds.

Rajasthan

Five departments have transferred all functions up to district level to PRIs. Fresh activity mapping has been done for these five departments.

Five departments have transferred all functionaries up to district level to PRIs.

Five departments have transferred funds up to the district level to PRIs through government orders. PRIs are entitled to 10% of untied funds.

Sikkim

All 29 subjects have been devolved to PRIs as per legislation. Activity mapping has been conducted for 20 subjects covering 16 departments.

Employees are under the control of PRIs; but panchayats exercise limited control over them.

PRIs do not collect taxes. Seventeen departments transfer funds to PRIs. Each of the 17 departments transfer 10% of their funds to PRIs. PRIs get untied funds.

Kerala

Activity mapping for all 29 subjects have been done and activities devolved to PRIs.

PRIs have full managerial control over transferred functionaries. PRIs also have part disciplinary control over functionaries (Dual reporting system continues).

GPs have a domain of nine types of taxes. Untied funds and departmental funds for specific purposes are transferred to PRIs.

Similar to the diversity in the state of PRIs and the extent of devolution across partner-States, the NRO team has also been faced with different levels of penetration and development of community organisations in these States.

State of CBO System in Project States

The States covered under the PRI-CBO convergence project had different extent of coverage by SHGs; effectiveness of the bank linkage programme also shows wide variation. Jharkhand and Odisha, two States covered under the priority scheme of NABARD to promote the SHG bank linkage programme in States ‘affected by Left wing extremism’ show wide variation between them as per the Status of Micro Finance Report of NABARD 2012-13.

In spite of the priority status and attempts in active promotion of the programme, only four districts in Jharkhand had achieved more than 80% coverage by SHGs. Among the three districts of intervention in Jharkhand, Ranchi and East Singhbhum had SHG coverage between 50 and 80% while coverage in West Singhbhum was below 50%. CBO system was in the process of creation and stabilisation in the pilot districts of Jharkhand.

In Odisha, all the four pilot districts – Jajpur, Gajapati, Sunderghar, and Malkangiri – had a coverage above 80% in 2012-13. In fact, in Odisha, except in Rayagada where the coverage was below 50% and Ganjam where it was between 50% and 80%, all other districts had a coverage exceeding 80%.

Both the pilot districts of Assam – Morigaon and Nagaon – had more than 80% coverage of SHGs. In Maharashtra, one of the pilot districts Thane had more than 80% coverage; Wardha had between 50% and 80% while the third district, Solapur had coverage less than 50%.

The PRI-CBO convergence project is being implemented even as the CBO programme is underway in many of the States under NRLM.

 

 

In spite of the diversity in coverage and development of the CBO structure, the PRI system has been broadly alien to the community structure across partner-States. This has been the basis as well as the rationale for the pilot projects that have been attempted. The strategy for the PRI-CBO convergence project has been devised in the specific contexts of NRLM.

  • NRLM aims at creating institutional platforms of the rural poor for enabling them to enhance their household incomes through formation of collectives, ability to access financial services, and creating and strengthening sustainable livelihoods.
  • NRLM relies on participatory identification of the rural poor by the communities.
  • NRLM recognises the importance of social mobilisation and building institutions of the poor for helping them in developing three essential capabilities in people:
    • Capability to know
    • Capability to speak up in problems that they faced
    • Capability to articulate their entitlements

The biggest challenges that NRLM faced with have been

  • Organising the poor and building their institutions in the rural context where the local elite exercised control over the people and resources.
  • NRLM’s constituency formed of the poorest of the poor have limited or no ability to access their entitlements.
  • Some of the most vulnerable sections of the target groups of NRLM even lacked a regular space of settlement (as in the case of migrants), and even did not have the ability to participate in a savings-based scheme.

In this context, the PRI-CBO convergence project builds up on the Kerala experience of implementation of another centrally sponsored scheme – Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) – through women’s collective.

MGNREGS stood in stark contrast to other rural development and poverty alleviation programmes of the government by its very nature of guaranteeing employment. Instead of identifying beneficiaries and providing them certain benefits, MGNREGS made the right to work a legal entitlement of the poor. The programme has a built in focus on the most marginalised and vulnerable sections among the poor. It also places PRIs at the centre of its implementation framework.

In spite of these strengths, MGNREGS has been falling short of providing the stipulated 100 days of wage employment to the poor in many States. One of the central reasons for this shortfall has been the weak local governance structures in States. With the PRIs lacking the capacity to play a central role, MGNREGS has been systemic flaws in ensuring employment opportunities to the poorest of the poor. The following have been identified as the main problems.

  • Lack of awareness on MGNREGS and the rights associated with that among the poor
  • Lack of proper systems for ensuring proper implementation at the ground level
  • Lack of participation of the poor in planning and implementing the programme
  • Bureaucratic hurdles
  • Caste based discrimination

This is where the Kerala model of linking the MGNREGS implementation with the community structure of women’s collectives made a difference. The CBO could play important roles in the implementation of MGNREGS through

  • Awareness generation among the poor
  • Job card registration and distribution
  • Filling in work applications
  • Identification of work
  • Supervision of work
  • Labour budgeting
  • Wage disbursement

This was made possible in Kerala by Kudumbashree’s systematic efforts in developing and administering training programmes and driving the CBO structure towards programme implementation. While the existing PRI-CBO convergence in Kerala provided the ground for this, Kudumbashree’s experience in MGNREGS also pointed out towards new opportunity in convergence between PRIs and CBOs.

NRLM and MGNREGS have similar mandates of reaching out to the poor families and enhancing their livelihood opportunities. The rights based approach in MGNREGS, if strengthened through awareness building of the poor on their entitlements can help NRLM in community mobilisation and institution building. Such a mutually beneficial relationship between the two programmes offer tremendous opportunities. This is the context in which the central government departments concerned have been working towards convergence between NRLM and MGNREGS.

In this context, the PRI-CBO convergence project envisages a mutually beneficial relationship between the PRIs and the communities in the process of implementing poverty eradication programmes. The Kerala experience has prompted adoption of a strategy with MGNREGS as the entry point towards building partnerships between PRIs and CBOs. Developing an entitlements-based perspectives for women’s collectives is central to the strategy.

Scope of the PRI-CBO convergence project includes the following.

  • Capacity building of PRI and CBO
  • Strengthening CBOs to engage PRIs for addressing the special needs of the poor and the marginalised
  • Converging the implementation of MGNREGS and other centrally supported schemes for strengthening the PRI-CBO interface
  • Enabling PRI-CBO convergence for livelihood enhancement and service delivery through different centrally sponsored/ State sponsored schemes.

Steps in CBO-PRI Convergence Project

  1. Exposure visits by State teams to Kerala
  2. Formation of State resource groups (SRG) in the respective States, to be the supporting agency for the project at the State level
  3. Scoping study
  4. Formation of resource groups at different levels
  5. Capacitation of Panchayats
  6. Developing localised IEC material
  7. Organising Gram Sabha
  8. MGNREGS convergence
  9. Formation of federations

Exposure Visits

Exposure visits are meant for the project teams from partner-States to gain a first-hand understanding of the way PRI-CBO convergence happens in Kerala and the benefits that accrue from it. It offers the project-teams exposure to an institutionalised system of convergence as well as an opportunity to see some of the show-cased best practice models.

Formation of State Resource Groups

State Resource Group (SRG) or State Resource Organisation (SRO) is formed in every partner-State as part of the project. The role of the SRG/SRO is to work as State level support agencies for the project. The groups typically consist of elected representatives with experience, women elected representatives, and representatives of civil society and academic community. SRG/SRO provides in-house capacity building and offer guidance based on their expertise in the field.

The group could remain as a permanent resource pool within the State and further support extension of the project beyond the pilot.

Scoping Study

Scoping study is a focused exercise meant to provide an understanding of the state of the PRIs, the CBOs, and other relevant institutions in the partner-State. While the study tries to gauge the capacities of the PRI members, it also seeks to work as a sensitising experience for them. The study maps the opportunities for the PRI-CBO convergence project in the pilot areas of the States and feeds into strategy formulation including entry points.

Through systematic conduct of interviews and focus group discussions, the scoping study adds to the understanding of the elected representatives as well as SHG members various relevant themes such as

  • The NRLM and, its role and vision
  • PRIs and their roles
  • SHGs and their roles

While the SRLM has the primary responsibility of conducting the scoping study, the tools used for the study are developed and provided by KS-NRO. Attempts would be made to identify local practices and resources that would be of use to the convergence project during the scoping study.

Formation of Resource Groups

Local Resource Groups (LRG) are formed by identifying appropriate persons from within the communities to assume lead roles in community mobilisation and sensitisation. The early activities of the LRGs include sensitisation, and mobilisation of SHGs for participating in Gram Sabha meetings, and facilitating participatory identification of the poor for SHG formation where required.

Block Resource Groups (BRG) are formed subsequently drawing in from LRGs for providing continued support to CBOs. BRGs, as their name indicates, work at the Block level, and are involved in planning, monitoring, and ensuring quality of deliverables under the convergence project.

NRLM is in different stages of implementation in partner-States. In places where the pilots are being implemented in ‘intensive blocks’, Community Resource Persons (CRPs) are available for supporting SHGs. However, there are other blocks where CRPs are not available. In such blocks, the BRGs also function as SHG resource persons.

Training programmes are conducted for LRGs and BRGs at different stages of the project. These training programmes help the local resource persons to gain adequate knowledge and skills to work with the communities on various activities under the convergence project.

Community Professionals’ Institutions have been envisaged for formation at a later state by drawing in the best resources among the LRG and BRG. These institutions are expected to provide technical services to SRLMs in facilitating the process of institution building through CBOs.

Capacitation of Panchayats

Capacity building of the Panchayats is aimed at creating an enabling environment for convergence. This in the context of the diverse extent of devolution and different levels of capacities of the Panchayats in partner-States necessitates contextualised strategies.

Need for Panchayats to Change

Ajit Bora, secretary of Bhoraguri Gram Panchayat (GP) in Bajiagaon Block of Nagaon District, Assam held the responsibility of managing two more Gram Panchayats. “In fact, this GP came to me as additional responsibility”, he said.

Responding to a question on lack of staff in GPs, Ajit Bora said the secretaries became regular staff only in 2003. “I joined service in 1994 on a consolidated pay of Rs 900 per month. In 1998 it was doubled. We were placed in scale of pay only in 2003”.

Now the pay scales are reasonably good, agrees Ajit Bora. “But if Gram Sabha meetings are going to be like this, then Panchayats need more staff. Also, the additional responsibility of multiple Panchayats should be done away with. Each Panchayat should have own secretary, and adequate staff".

Women attend Gram Sabha meetings with adequate preparations, he pointed out. “One cannot skip a Gram Sabha meeting now. And, if one has to offer satisfactory answers, there is a need to come prepared for the meeting; otherwise these women will take you to task”.

Capacitation includes awareness building of the elected representatives on the roles of PRIs as well as their own role in the working of the PRIs. While capacitation covers all the elected representatives, special focus has been placed on women representatives as well as those from the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (SC and ST) communities.

Roles of Elected Representatives

“The most important contribution of the mentors has been to make Panchayat representatives aware of their roles”, said Mofidul Hussain, the Block Project Manager, Block Mission Management Unit (BMMU), NRLM of Laharighat Block, Assam.

“The Panchayats here are almost like non-entities”, he said. The elected representatives were not aware of their roles; the Secretary of the Panchayat did not realise what role the elected representatives had either. The Panchayat offices remained closed almost throughout the year.

“Now that the elected representatives are aware of their roles, and the SHGs and VOs are demanding things, they have reason to keep the office open somehow”, said Debashish Baruah, Block Coordinator.

Developing Localised IEC Material

The Convergence Project seeks to develop effective IEC tools for sensitisation and community mobilisation. This is achieved through involving local resources such as SHG leaders, school teachers, and community leaders.

Gram Sabha Mobilisation

Gram sabhas, in spite of being the primary constitutional body for direct democracy, have been typically held as routine exercises in many States of the country without active participation of local communities. Participation of women in Gram Sabha has been abysmally low in many States. Gram Sabha being a formal platform where people could exercise their direct democratic rights in demoing entitlements and scrutinising beneficiary selection of various schemes, offered huge potential in strengthening PRIs and local democracy.

The main problem behind the lukewarm response of the people towards Gram Sabha has clearly been the lack of awareness. Devoid of active participation, Gram Sabha has fallen into the hands of the local elite wherein they take decision for the communities. The Convergence Project envisages redeeming the Gram Sabha for the poor; for the communities.

Gram Sabha Meeting in Bhoraguri GP

“Look at the participation in the Gram Sabha. Now men hardly get chance to speak”, said Ajit Borah, secretary of Bhoraguri GP, in Bajiagaon block, Nagaon district. “Didn’t you see how those women were raising issues in the meeting?”, he asked.

The Gram Sabha meeting had hundreds of women attending; many of them were active in raising issues and engaging in discussions. At several points, the GP president had to intervene to calm down the discussions. The GP President, Secretary, elected representatives, and President of the Block Panchayat attended the meeting.

“Attendance would have been even higher but for the death of two persons in the village early in the morning today”, said Deepa Horo, the President of the Anachalik Block Panchayat who hails from Bhoraguri GP. There was also a massive attack by a herd of close to 100 elephants on the paddy crop in the village. Therefore, some of the men had gone to the fields to do urgent damage prevention work.

When women started attending Gram Sabha, it changed everything here, said Dipak Bairagi, president of the GP. LRGs have prepared the SHGs through pre-Gram Sabha meetings to attend Gram Sabha effectively.

Mobilisation for Gram Sabha starts with awareness building on local democracy, PRIs and the role and potential of Gram Sabha as a forum for direct democracy. The discourse is framed around a rights based approach; communities are facilitated to understand their entitlements.

CBOs are prepared to send women to attend Gram Sabha meetings and engage in the processes. Working through the SHGs, it drives towards pre-Gram Sabha preparations and post-Gram Sabha appraisals in SHG meetings. These meetings work as awareness building sessions for poor women on their entitlements and in negotiating the local governance system for claiming their rightful benefits.

Jan sabhas are organised with the participation of SHG members and PRI members for discussing different schemes and entitlements. LRGs facilitate these; Jan sabhas work as preparatory awareness building forums for Gram Sabha meetings.

Panchayat Office at Bhoraguri

Similar to any other GP in the district, the GP office in Bhoraguri also used to remain closed on almost all days of the year. “Now with the Gram Sabhas becoming so active and women visiting us frequently and demanding things, we have to keep the office open”, said Dipak Bairagi, President of the GP.

Bhoraguri GP has been getting noticed with its good work in NREGA. “The GP has been very positive in its approach to NRLM in general and the PRI-CBO convergence initiative in particular”, said Dr.RaihanAlam, Block Project Manager, NRLM.

The health camp that the GP conducted recently was an indication of how well the message on entitlements have been passed on to every households through the CBO structure, he said.

The LRGs have now started using the GP office as their base for regular work in the GP. This has become an additional reason for the GP office to remain open.

MGNREGS Convergence

The PRI-CBO convergence uses MGNREGS, the first central scheme that made employment a right, as the entry point. MGNREGS is an employment scheme that guarantees rural households 100 days of paid work every year doing manual labour.

Under the MGNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act), every Gram Panchayat should have an annual MGNREGA plan with the following.

  • A list of all works to be taken up during the year
  • Project plans for execution of the works
  • The funds required to pay every family registered under MGNREGS

IPPE (Integrated Participatory Planning Exercise) is a national initiative by the ministry of rural development to ensure that people from socially excluded communities are included in their village’s annual MGNREGA planning process.

The planning process is an opportunity for the community members to identify projects or issues that they think need addressing.

The initial step is awareness building on the programme. This include making communities aware of the following.

  • MGNREGS, and how different it is from other programmes
  • MGNREGS – potential and scope
  • Entitlements of the citizens in MGNREGS
  • The MGNRES process and the role that SHGs can play
  • PRI role in implementation
  • SHG role in Gram Sabha in the context of MGNREGS

Demanding Work in Jharkhand

“Women used to go to the work site and demand work, only to be sent back by the contractor”, said one of the mentors of the PRI-CBO convergence project.

Women were not aware of the enrolment process. There was lot of irregularities happening with contractors acting as mates for MGNREGA. Now that the women have been made aware of the entire spectrum of activities under MGNREGA ranging from planning to payment, processes are becoming streamlined.

Formation of Federations

Creation of federated structures of SHGs at the village and cluster levels is part of the NRLM strategy. The PRI-CBO convergence projects works closely with the process of forming and strengthening the federations so that they could be used as vehicles for convergence with corresponding PRI structures at different levels.

As the CBO formation has been predominantly along the SERP model of Andhra Pradesh, the emerging federated structures are not directly amenable to direct convergence with the PRI structure. The lines of engagement are further blurred by the evolving nature of PRIs themselves in most of the partner-States.

In the model that has been promoted under NRLM, there is no Gram Panchayat level structure. The focus has been on village organisations (VOs), with varied jurisdiction as the definition of the village varies across States and regions. The concept of cluster has also not been in one-to-one correspondence with any particular level of the PRI structure. This poses a problem in adapting the Kerala model of PRI-CBO Convergence in partner-States.

Given the CBO structure that has been promoted across the States, KS-NRO works with SHGs to strengthen their federations and converge with PRIs, starting from Gram Sabha meetings to working on MGNREGS. The idea is to move more and more towards institutional convergence through partnerships in programme implementation. A rights and entitlements based framework has been consistently used in this endeavour.

Exit Strategy

Kudumbashree NRO has planned an exit strategy for the PRI-CBO Convergence Project; the strategy is meant to facilitate a process for each partner State to take over the implementation of the project. The following are the steps planned to facilitate a sustainable and smooth transition of the Project.

  • Building the capacities of the community cadre to assist the scaling of the project in partner-States
  • Establishment of institutional structures for participatory governance at Gram Panchayat level.
  • Establishment of a mechanism for entitlement tracking by the CBOs.
  • Supporting CBO to emerge as a service delivery agency.
  • Nurturing innovative action by local communities.

An institutional system consisting of Village Organisation Coordination Committee (VOCC) and Gram Panchayat Coordination Committee (GPCC) in the pilot GPs, established as part of the Project, is expected to facilitate the transition process.

VOCCs are Village level platforms of CBOs liaison with PRIs; GPCCs are Gram Panchayat level forums that federate the VOCCs. The GPCC is expected to meet at regular intervals and deepen the coordination between PRI and CBO in matters relating to planning and service delivery.

 

 

Gram Panchayat Poverty Reduction Plan (GP2RP) is the consolidated demand plan for local development prepared by the community network in partnership with respective Gram Panchayat.

GP2RP has emerged as an important tool for PRI-CBO Convergence under the Naitonal Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM).

The Context

The Fourteenth Finance Commission awarded a grant of Rs 200,292.20 crore to Gram Panchayats. This unprecedented size of grant offers substantial resources to address local development issues. Funds are now available for provision of basic services to rural communities.

In addition to the grant awarded by the Fourteenth Finance Commission, MGNREGS is expected to provide Rs 1.5 lakh crore to Rs 2 lakh crore to GPs over a period of five years. In addition, GPs in certain States get the grant awarded by the State Finance Commission; GPs in many States also have their own revenue collected from taxes and licences, and also States’ scheme funds.

However, the effective and transparent utilisation of these funds would depend on proper planning and implementation of programmes by the Panchayats. This in turn depended on the extent of devolution and the strength of the Panchayats in different States. This was the context in which GP2RP was proposed wherein local level resource demand is reported and consolidated through the community network and presented to the Gram Panchayats.

Objectives

  • To prepare comprehensive and inclusive demand plans for local development under the leadership of the community network in consultation with local governments.
  • To strengthen the community based organisations and their leadership for active participation in poverty reduction activities.
  • To facilitate the development of organic interface between the federations of Self-Help Groups (SHGs) and Panchayat Raj Institutions (PRIs) for the socioeconomic development of the villages through appropriate mechanisms.

Components

Community network consisting of SHGs and their federations has been evolving across the country under NRLM. GP2RP is prepared by the SHGs, consolidating the demands for livelihoods, health and sanitation, social security, natural resource management, and basic infrastructure development expressed by poor families. I has an element of inclusion as well, wherein attempts are made to bring in households that are left out into the SHG fold.

Components Description
Social Inclusion Plan Plan for inclusion of vulnerable people / households into SHGs under NRLM
Entitlement Plan Consolidated demand for entitlements based on Participatory Assessment of Entitlements (PAE)
Livelihoods Plan Specific demands for livelihood enhancement through agriculture, animal husbandry, skill training etc.
Credit Plan Demand for financial services under NRLM and bank linkage
Infrastructure Development Plan Demand for new infrastructure and renovation of existing infrastructure
Resource Development Plan Demand for protection and development of natural resources

The GP2RP Process

Facilitator groups are formed at Gram Panchayat level. Participatory Assessment of Entitlements (PAE) are held at every SHG. Following this, consultations are held with the Gram Panchayat. This is followed by the preparation of SHG level Entitlement Plans, which are consolidated at the GP level. The plan is then presented to the Gram Panchayat. The last step is to present the plans at the Gram Sabha.

Steps for preparing GP2RP include capacity building of CBO leaders and SHG office bearers by Local Resource Groups (LRG), preparation of SHG Register and SHG level Livelihoods and Entitlement Plans, preparation of VO Register and VO level Livelihoods and Social Security Plan, and preparation of GP Register and sectoral Gram Panchayat Poverty Reduction Plans.

In the context of the Fourteenth Finance Commission awarding significant grants to Gram Panchayats, the integrating GP2RP with the development of Gram Panchayat Development Plan (GPDP) is critical. The following institutional framework has been conceptualised for the integration of GP2RP with GPDP.

 

Line departments of the State Governments as well as NRLM have resources that could be used for responding to the demand plans prepared through the CBOs in consultation with Gram Panchayats. Aligning these resources with the demand from the field for effective utilisation of the resources for meeting the demands is another important area of work.

 

 

 

GP2RP has been about seizing a moment of opportunity; an opportunity when the Gram Panchayats got access to unprecedented extent of resources on the one hand, and a community network getting formed through social mobilisation with focus on inclusion on the other. GP2RP has thus been the bridge between the community demand, expressed and consolidated through the community network and integrated with the pools of resources available. The process generated substantial enthusiasm among the members of the community network as they participated in the process of demand generation and consolidation. The Gram Panchayats realised the potential of the community network and the possibility of it being a partner in development.

 

 

Participatory Assessment of Entitlements (PAE)

Participatory Assessment of Entitlements (PAE) is an SHG level discussion module.

PAE was developed with the primary objective of getting inputs to two components of the NRLM results framework – governance processes and household benefits.

Therefore, PAE includes components on

  • Gram sabha meetings
  • Household benefits

PAE is also an initiative aimed at sensitisation of SHG members on entitlements and benefits. PAE also works as a means of formulating a baseline and as a tool for information sharing among SHG members.

Discussions are facilitated by LRG members under the guidance of mentor resource persons. All SHGs in pilot areas are covered through PAE.

Objectives of PAE

  • Sensitisation on and mobilisation for gram sabha and schemes
  • Data collection for assessment of project progress
  • Developing materials for planning for future activities
  • Strengthening of LRG and village organisation (VO)
  • Identification of active women from the SHG network

Outcomes of PAE

  • Sensitisation and mobilisation of SHG members for strengthening planning and implementation of schemes through active participation in gram sabha
  • Base line data for assessment of project progress
  • Capacity building of LRG members
  • Strengthening of SHGs and their federations
  • Strengthening the linkage between CBOs and GPs
  • Sensitisation of GP to demand for development and social security schemes among poor women and their families

The PAE Process

  • Training of LRG members at block level

NRO orients the LRG on the concept and process of PAE. PAE module is explained to LRG and processes explained.

  • Conduct of PAE in SHG meetings

LRG takes the lead in conducting PAE meetings at SHGs. PAE is always done either during regular SHG meetings; if this is not possible, it is held as per the convenience of the SHG members. Mentors support LRGs in the first couple of meetings in a block. Typically, a PAE meeting takes about 90 minutes.

  • Consolidation of PAE data at VO level

Once all the SHGs in a VO complete their PAE meetings, data is consolidated and presented at the VO level. It is VO members who consolidate present the results, with support and guidance from LRG. Ward members are also invited to the meetings. The consolidated data of all SHGs in a VO provides a picture of the extent to which women are able to access entitlements. The document forms the basis for collective action with the GP.

  • Consolidation of PAE data at GP level

After the completion of data consolidation in all the VOs in a GP, VO status documents are compiled at the GP level. Representatives from all the VOs in the GP attend the meeting. President and members of the GP are invited to the meeting.

GP level consolidated PAE report is a direct input to the GP; it also works as the starting point for the GP and the VO to discuss the possibilities of working together.

  • Action plan preparation by VO based on PAE results and demand from SHG

VOs prepare action plans based on the consolidated SHG level PAEs.

  • Consultative meetings of VO and GP to integrate VO action plan into the GP plan

VOs and GPs work together to integrate the VO action plan into the gram panchayat level development plan.

  • Implementation plan to be developed laying down course of action for the next one year, mentioning specific roles of GP and VO in each activity.

Annual implementation plan is worked out at this stage.

The Ribbon Exercise

“The ribbon exercise was brilliant”, said MomiBaruah, one of the participant women in a meeting of Bikahit Village Organisation in Sutar Gaon GP, Nugaon, Assam. Momi Baruah was explaining the way they conducted PAE exercise in the SHGs under their VO.

“I was very proud to wear the blue ribbon for my attendance in Gram Sabha”, said Bharti Borah Saikya. She pointed out that ever since the LRG members started working with them, she made it a point to attend all the Gram Sabha meetings. Therefore, in the PAE exercise, while some of her friends who had attended only the last Gram Sabha got red ribbons, she proudly wore a blue ribbon.

In the PAE exercise, which was held for each SHG, they played the ribbon exercise. Two LRG members facilitated each meeting. Each of the attending women wore ribbons of particular colours according to their achievements. These achievements included attending several Gram Sabha meetings, having a toilet at home, using it etc”.

“The ribbon exercise helped women openly express things which they would not have been comfortable talking about. For example, a woman who has got a latrine at home wore a green ribbon while a woman who also used that toilet would wear a white one”, said Radha, a mentor overseeing the process from KS-NRO.

“It was the ward member who always used to decide who got what; now after attending Gram Sabha meetings and after going through the ribbon game, we know what to demand for”, said Julie Bordoloi. She said the ribbon game helped her SHG members to understand what was due to them from the GP and the government. “Now we know how to get it; nobody else can decide on these any more”.

“The ribbon game was very interesting”, said Bordoloi. At the end of the game in her SHG, she was asked to explain how she got the maximum number of ribbons on her wrists. She felt very proud. She was also proud about the particular colours of ribbon that she got.

While one of the two LRG members helped the women do the exercise, the other LRG member counted the ribbons and noted down relevant information. Responses where written against each question in the PAE schedule.

After completing the exercise in all the SHGs in a VO, the LRG members compiled the information at the VO level.

 

Entitlement Access Plan (EAP)

EAP is a Target Plan that each Village Organisation (VO) prepares for addressing the gaps in accessing entitlements identified during the Participatory Assessment of Entitlements (PAE). Using the information collected through PAE as baseline, each VO sets quarterly plans for different schemes. Once set, VO monitors and evaluates these targets on a regular basis.

EAP Methodology

EAP is prepared through discussions on the ways in which different schemes could be used for improving the state of poor households. A story ('Roshni') is used for facilitating the discussions.

Outcomes of EAP

  • Consolidated Target Demand for different schemes
  • Sensitisation of the community on the benefits of schemes
  • Ownership of the community network in ensuring access to entitlements
  • Support to PRI from CBO in enhancing the outreach of social welfare schemes
  • Capacitation of PRI and CBO on plan preparation and implementation of schemes

Follow Up

The entitlement demand identified through participatory exercises is taken up with Gram Panchayat and appropriate line departments. The progress is monitored at regular intervals. The CBO functions here as a facilitator for ensuring basic entitlements of the community.

The CBO engages in consultations with the PRI and the line departments for presenting the status of entitlement access of the member households to them. The CBO also presents the demand for entitlements in consolidated form through consultations. The PAE and EAP are presented then to the Gram Sabha for approval.

CBO forms sub committees for different schemes as part of the preparations for the process. The VO sub committees are strengthened through training and awareness programmes. Each SHG identifies volunteers to work on different schemes. Institutionalisation of the consultative platform between CBOs and PRIs evolve through the process.

Active involvement of the CBO in the local demand generation and entitlement access plans adds to their capacities. Their engagement with the processes offers crucial support to the PRIs while exerts pressure for transparency and inclusion in scheme implementation. Participatory planning exercises offer a platform for PRIs and CBOs to engage with each other on a regular basis.

 

 

 

 

 

The Enterprises Project or MEC Project has as its primary objective of building local capabilities, and community based enterprise support system in the form of micro-enterprise consultants (MECs) for promotion and development of micro-enterprises of the poor.

The MECs in the project are local women and men who have been provided with high quality business management training and necessary handholding to set up their own consulting businesses promoting and supporting micro-enterprises.

 

MEC Project in Partner-States

MEC project aims to train local persons in business management skills and make their services available to the rural poor in setting up and running their enterprises.

Similar to the mentor resource persons of the PRI-CBO convergence project, KS-NRO has placed mentors in the pilot areas of the MEC project. These mentors are known as ‘mentor MECs’.

Mentor MECs work with MECs in the districts providing them with continuous training and handholding.

KS-NRO is engaged with seven States in implementing MEC project; in five of these States, MEC project is underway along with the PRI-CBO convergence project.

  • Implementation of MEC project and PRI-CBO convergence
    • Five States: Jharkhand, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Sikkim
  • Implementation of MEC project only
    • Two States: Bihar, Gujarat

The MEC Project has been titled ‘Creating Community Based Resource Support for Training and Hand-holding of Micro Enterprises of the Poor through Micro Enterprise Consultants’.

The project is about providing end-to-end support to potential entrepreneurs from the poorer sections of the society. The MEC Project was drawn up with the following objectives.

  • Creation of sustainable livelihoods for rural people through self-employment initiatives
  • Provision of community level handholding support through trained micro enterprise consultants (MECs)
  • Enabling State Rural Livelihood Missions (SRLM) to formulate state policy for enterprise promotion and support

 

 

The MEC Projects have been planned with the following activities.

Preparatory Phase

  • Exploratory visit of Kudumbashree NRO to the partner States
    • Kudumbashree NRO team visits the partner-States to understand the overall context, conditions, communities, customs, institutions, and culture.
    • The NRO team works with the SRLM of the partner-State to develop appropriate strategies for implementation of the project.
  • Exposure visits of partner State teams to Kerala
    • A team from the partner State visits Kerala and understand the way the MEC system works. They see some of the best practices models that have come up in the State. The visit offers an opportunity to take critical look at the MEC system of the State. This assumes special significance as
      • The Kerala model itself is evolving; a complete proof of concept is yet to emerge
      • Therefore, it is not a replication of the MEC system of Kerala that the NRO intends to try out in partner-States, but a new model contextualised to the specific conditions of the State, and evolving taking in the lessons from Kerala while attempting to avoid the pitfalls.
  • KS-NRO team and the SRLM team together decide on the districts for pilot implementation of MEC project.
  • Initial orientation to staff in pilot districts
    • A workshop is conducted for the SRLM staff in the pilot districts responsible for the implementation of different NRLM components. The workshop is meant to provide the staff orientation on the project, its objectives, method, and deliverables. It is important that the district level NRLM staff gain adequate understanding of the project.
  • Mentor MEC immersion and selection
    • Immersion is meant to provide mentor MECs an understanding of the new place and to familiarise with the geographic, social, economic, and political contexts. Immersion helps mentors in understanding the local communities and building rapport with the people. As language is a constraint in most of the cases, immersion also helps the MECs in reaching an essential comfort level in communicating with the people. At the end of immersion, a joint team of NRO and SRLM selects the mentors for the project in the pilot districts.

Selection and Capacity Building of MECs

  • Identification and selection of MECs
    • KS-NRO and SRLM jointly select potential MECs from among a group identified through the CBO structure. The selection is done through a two-day workshop of identified candidate. After selection, they undergo a grading test to select the candidates for training as master / CREAM MECs. The selected MECs are given an induction assignment.
  • General orientation training
    • General orientation training (GoT) is what provides the incumbents exposure to the MEC project, its method, and roles and responsibilities of MECs.
  • Training in Entrepreneurship Development (TED/EDP)
    • TED introduces business management concepts of entrepreneurship to MECs. The component has an elaborate module on basic arithmetic operations that lay the foundation for further training. TED also has modules on motivation and communication skills.
  • Course in Rural Enterprise Administration and Management (CREAM)
    • CREAM training is only for master MECs / CREAM MECs. It is a rigorous course meant to equip 30-35 MECs as master MECs and trainers for more MECs. CREAM has its content arranged in six modules.
      1. Overview and business finance
      2. Sales and marketing
      3. Operations management
      4. Financial management
      5. Strategy
      6. Teaching TEAM
    • The last module is for preparing master MECs to train more MECs; the training programme used for such training is TEAM.
    • Following CREAM training, a pilot benchmarking is carried out where each MEC collects data on three micro enterprises.
    • An exposure visit to Kerala is part of CREAM package. The visit is interspersed between the fifth and sixth modules and includes visits to understand the CBO structure, micro enterprises, and MEC system of Kerala.
    • It is TREE society that administers the CREAM training.
  • Training in Enterprise Administration and Management (TEAM)
    • TEAM is a compressed form of CREAM meant to teach essential business concepts to MECs. CREAM MECs handle the sessions in TEAM with the support of mentor MECs.
  • BLOSSOM
    • Blossom is a team building activity that is conducted just before the sixth module of CREAM. It focuses on developing team spirit among MECs for future activities. It also ensures the absence of any hierarchy among CREAM and TEAM MECs as the difference in training is only meant to enable the former to engage in training of more MECs. Blossom also works as a platform for orientation of benchmarking to MECs other than CREAM MECs. The process of MEC group formation and initiation of the process for business plan preparation also happens during Blossom.

 

 

  • Enterprise bench-marking surveys
    • These surveys are meant for developing benchmark values for a set of identified parameters for tracking the performances of micro enterprises run by the poor. It has come out of the understanding of the need for separate performance standards for benchmarking of micro enterprises of the poor; conventional industry standards are not useful here.
    • Data is collected from existing enterprises on their ownership, capital, operations, and costs. MECs collect data for each pilot district and feed into a software application which calculates values for given parameters.
  • Performance tracking system (PTS)
    • The PTS has been developed for regular monitoring of the micro enterprises set up by poor women. A data collection system is put in place where the entrepreneur can feed information on daily transactions of the micro enterprise. The real time data in the PTS is used for regular monitoring; the data over a period would be fed back into the benchmarking system for revising benchmarking values. This is essential for a robust monitoring system in a dynamic environment.

PTS is a method of systematic collection and analysis of business information, to understand and measure business performance. The system is administered through Micro Enterprise Consultants (MECs), who have the responsibility to ensure maintenance of basic books of accounts by the entrepreneur, collection of data from the enterprise regularly, and generating financial statements from the transaction data thus collected.

The financial statements allow comparison of the performance of an enterprise over time, and that of different enterprises of the same type at a given point of time.

Components of PTS

The components of PTS includes registration of enterprises, maintenance of books of accounts, calculations based on transaction data, generation of financial statements, and analysis.

 

The MECs may offer advisory services based on the performance assessment done through PTS.

Process of Record Keeping

The book keeping required for PTS has been made simple, which an entrepreneur could maintain at the location of the enterprise. An entrepreneur is required to keep only three records: a Day Book recording all the primary transactions of a business day,a Stock Register, and a Capital Register recording the periodic changes in the assets and liabilities of the business. MECs have to collect and record a set of fist time information, and then update a set of information collected from the primary books kept with the enterprise.

 

Utility of PTS to Stakeholders

PTS helps the entrepreneur in understanding the performance of the enterprise, analysing it, and thereby improving performance. It also helps the entrepreneur in availing finances for the enterprise as it ensures systematic book keeping and timely generation of financial statements. It helps banks and financial institutions in assessing the performance of the enterprise and the credit-worthiness of the entrepreneur. For the State Rural Livelihood Missions (SRLMs), the PTS provides useful information on the performance of enterprises covered under their projects, in monitoring the performance of MECs, and in formulating or changing policies on enterprise promotion.

 

  • Formation of MEC groups in zones
    • The objectives of MEC group formation includes pooling of multiple skills so that they can support a range of businesses and also ensuring uniform and remunerative territories for MEC groups to operate.
    • The steps include assessment and ranking of blocks based on pre-set parameters, grouping of blocks into ‘zones’, and formation of MEC groups for zones. At the end of the exercise, pilot district is divided into different zones and each zone has an MEC group.
  • Preparation of business plans for MEC groups
    • Each MEC group has to come up with a business plan; the business plan preparation has the following objectives.
      • Assessing existing and potential business opportunities for MEC groups and estimating earning potential
      • Assessing the capabilities of MEC groups and figuring out ways to utilise them
      • Estimating capital requirement for MEC groups to start their business
      • Engaging MECs in remunerative business activities as per the plan
      • Finalising business plans for the groups

The MEC Project visualises formation of MEC Groups which would evolve into local level business entities themselves generating revenue through promoting and supporting micro enterprises. The sustainability of the project would therefore depend on the robustness and viability of these groups and their ability to generate a reasonable income. The fundamental logic of MEC Group is pooling of multiple skill sets among MECs; MEC Groups are expected to be viable entities rather than individual MECs.

 

 

 

While the MEC project addresses a critical issue of making available professional support at the field level for micro enterprises run by the poor, the project can deliver only if adequate policy measures and support systems are in place. It is the responsibility of the SRLM to ensure these.

Important components of policy formulation and support framework are the following.

  • Formulating policy to create a conducive environment for MEC groups to function.
  • Identifying the requirements of training and follow up for potential entrepreneurs and specifying the roles of MEC groups
  • Post-training facilitation of new entrepreneurs and contribution of MEC groups in the process
  • Policy on the business plans for potential entrepreneurs
  • MEC role in establishing financial convergence with other enterprise schemes

Monitoring and Review

KS-NRO has been clear about the potential problems that may arise during the project life cycle given the dynamic nature of the context as well as the roles and engagement of multiple stakeholders. Therefore, a monitoring and review system has been put in place, which includes the following.

  • Quarterly reviews at district and State level
  • Annual review at the State level
  • Mid-term review by external consultants

In addition to these, KS-NRO has the following systems for regular monitoring of the project.

  • Periodic review meetings of mentor MECs at KS-NRO
  • Periodic review meetings of MEC groups

Mid Term Review – Bihar and Jharkhand Projects

Mid-term review (MTR) of the MEC projects in the first two States where it had been initiated was conducted during August - September 2015. The review started with a two-day workshop at the National Mission Management Unit (NMMU) of NRLM in Delhi and culminate in a one-day workshop of the stakeholders from both the States to share the findings.

The MTR team conducted field visits in the five district in the two states and held interactions with officials, entrepreneurs, MECs, MEC Groups, and members of the community structure (Self Help Groups - SHGs and Village Organisations - VOs).

Feedback from the Bihar Rural Livelihoods Promotion Society (BRLPS), Jharkhand State Livelihoods Promotion Society (JSLPS), NMMU, KS-NRO, MECs, entrepreneurs, and SHG members had been considered in preparing the report of the review.

After consolidating the observations and learnings from the two States, the MTR report provided a set of recommendations for

  1. Improvement of the current projects in pilot districts
  2. Expansion of the project into other districts
  3. Expansion of the project into other states

The review found that expansion of the project in other districts and States would be worthwhile if the projects draws in from the strengths and limitations of the pilots; mere replication may not be advisable. The report recommends integration of the project with the core strategies and programmes of State Rural Livelihood Missions (SRLMs) as well as those of the community infrastructure. The report argues for dedicated project functionaries at district level for better coordination. Policy guidelines for the project should be in place before initiation in other States.