Industry needs to tap female entrepreneurial skills of self-help groups: Smriti Irani


Expressing confidence that the women self-help groups (SHGs) have the potential to evolve into small and medium businesses, Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani has urged the industry to embed the entrepreneurial skills of SHGs. 

Addressing the winners at the Fortune India Most Powerful Women event, Irani said, "Budget pronouncements talk about creating clusters out of self-help groups. SHGs received credit support worth ₹1 lakh crore every year. The rural affairs ministry can quantify that in the past eight years, they have transitioned close to ₹5 lakh crore from the Indian treasury to bank accounts of close to eight million SHGs and nine crore women."  

Irani said this means that we really have fundamental research available as to how this conglomerate of women circulates and service this money. "This means that they understand money, manage it well, and have displayed fiscal discipline as rarely have I heard of an SHG failing to pay back, which is a big skill set in the fiscal world. They are managing this money as they are involved in the production of some local product, or some agro-processing unit or home-based industry," she added. 

"Over a decade, women have created a rural and circular economy. Women in SHGs have not only shown the propensity to save but they also spend on education and health. So we have women who save, know finance and are good spenders," she said. 

"From an economic point of view we now know that there are 200 million women in the Mudra Yojana, 90 million women in the SHG sphere and a combination of these that have become an entry-level in the SME segment," she added, while also making a point that the industry leaders need to tap this potential. 

Urging the industry, Irani said, "What we now need to do and I am hopeful that the industry leaders do this is to pick industrial area wise, or those who are in the craft-based industry,  bring them together and see which segment of this can transition into mid-size companies. If we do that we will do a great service to the female entrepreneurial skill in the country.”

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