Transformational Change through Self Help Groups


'Self Help Groups come together to do what they cannot do individually.'
Tearfund, Horn of Africa Regional Office Annual Report 2011/2

As so often is the case, when we work with our clients, we are introduced to entirely new worlds. We were introduced to the world of Self Help Groups (SHGs) in our work with Tearfund. SHGs are groups of 15-20 people, selected primarily from the economically poorest, that come together to address a variety of issues including empowerment, better nutrition, economic development, leadership and more. One of the primary focuses of such groups is group savings which are mobilised to provide loans to group members and others in the community. Savings can start as low as 0.25 ETB per member, per week, but much to our surprise, these savings can soon grow to millions of birr.

Tearfund is a UK Christian relief and development agency which works in over 50 countries. TF mobilises churches to give people the opportunity to participate in their own development and economic transformation. Since 2002 Tearfund has been supporting the development of SHGs in Ethiopia, and today, Tearfund oversees over 12,000 SHGs across the country, impacting over 1 million people.

Tearfund's activities are very data driven, as they attempt to demonstrate the cost benefit of their programs and the effects of SHGs on the lives of the people it impacts. This means that they collect information regularly from across the country on all their SHGs including their members and their families. Using paper and pen, this process was costly and time consuming, and wouldn't scale to meet their future plans. Apposit has been working with Tearfund using its Connect platform to make this process paperless, real-time and scalable.

SHG chartTearfund employs between 100 - 150 facilitators who are responsible for collecting and submitting members' data from SHGs across the country. Facilitators are now equipped with a low cost, Android smartphone which they use to register new SHGs as well as collecting extensive information on each group twice a year. This information is submitted remotely, and aggregated instantly to produce aggregated reports for all SHG operations across the country.

Tearfund's efforts to register all SHGs and their members' information is well underway, and not only brings the benefits of paperless, real time information, but also the ability to delegate management responsibilities by providing access to management information through a secure website. Partners, local churches and other stakeholders are able to log in anytime and see data relevant to their programs and grantees.

Analysis of SHGs managed by Tearfund has shown that these groups are delivering transformational change, and Apposit is proud to be playing its part in helping scale these initiatives in Ethiopia.

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