April 2010

e-Book-keeping Project in Bibinagar Mandal, Andhra Pradesh

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Self Help Group Member’s Meeting in Progress

The Society for Elimination of Rural Poverty (SERP), an autonomous society of the Department of Rural Development, Government of Andhra Pradesh, has initiated an ICT project, named Book-keeping for Self Help Groups (SHG). The project aims at equipping the SHGs with a portable computing device, which would enable them in maintaining records of the financial transactions in a more simple and efficient manner.

This project is a part of the Indira Kranti Patham (IKP) initiative taken by the Government of Andhra Pradesh. This is a major programme of the State Government under which the Government provides ownership rights on lands to the landless poor.  The vision of the programme is,  “The disadvantaged communities shall be empowered to overcome all social, economic, cultural and psychological barriers through self-managed organisations. They will attain higher productivity with improved skills and asset base and utilise resources to full potential and gainful access to services”.

With increasing activities, book-keeping has emerged as an important function in the self management of SHGs. Despite having a long history of SHG movement in the state, SHGs continued to depend on trained book-keepers, mostly non-members, for their book-keeping. The low literacy rate among women is primarily the reason for this dependence. As a result of dependence on others, the quality of book-keeping of SHGs has suffered. The poor quality of book keeping has often affected the internal functioning of the SHGs. It has resulted in intra-SHG disputes. There are several instances of SHGs winding up due to defective book-keeping.

what Self Help group means?

A Self-Help Group (SHG) is a registered or non-registered group of micro-entrepreneurs having homogeneous social and economic background, voluntarily coming together to save regular small sums of money, mutually agreeing to contribute to a common fund and to meet their emergency needs on the basis of mutual help. The group members use collective wisdom and peer pressure to ensure proper end-use of credit and timely repayment.

SHG has primarily women members, aims to create a single source of borrowing for a woman. There are more than 1.2 Crore women members engaged in 9 lakh SHGs in rural Andhra Pradesh.

In general, book-keeping is viewed as a drudgery. It amply reflects in SHG book-keeping throughout the state even though SHGs are provided with books. Under e-Book-keeping project, which has  been piloted in the Bibinagar Mandal of the Nalgonda district of Andhra Pradesh, 35 HCL and Asus Notebook PCs have been provided to 35 Village Organisations, VO (nearly 25 SHG makes a Village Organisation at village level).  These notebooks have been bundled with softwares for maintenance of all sort of financial transactions and individual records. The software has been developed by Tata Consultancy Services (TCS).

Earlier, the book keeper, a person who maintained the records of all the business transacted in a SHG meet, had to maintain seven books for the purpose and had to spend one and half hour sto register all of it. But with the help of these Notebook PCs, all of the transactions are recorded in just a time period of 10 to 15 minutes.

Nav Chaitanya

The SHG meet once a week or once in a month and transact their business. The meeting starts with a prayer ‘Jeevithana Gelupundhani’, which in essence praise the collective effort and strength of the community towards the path of prosperity and goodwill.

After the prayers, in one of the group meeting of the Nav Chaitanya – II SHG of the Gudur village of Bibinagar Mandal on Sunday, March 21, 2010- a member of the group presided over the meeting and collected the thrift money from other  SHG members. The SHG collected the savings from their members in this group meeting. The information on savings made in the current meeting and cumulative savings is made available to the members.

The SHG members repay the loan amount as per the repayment schedule. Thereafter, discussion on loan sanctions, credit delivery and social development activities as well as resolutions passed, if any, is recorded in the minute’s book during the progress of the meeting. The loan disbursement follows the recording of loan disbursement details in the prescribed screen.

BENEFITS:

The benefi ts are numerous. The SHG members can get their balance and account details, as and when required. e-Book-keeping provides valuable information to help the SHGs to take the right decision at right time and help in full scope for the e-Book-keeping for the SHGs, which means that the data is analysed as it is processed, on daily basis/ weekly basis.

Ledger extraction is automatic andcan be done at any time automatically at the touch of a few keys. Large amount of data is processed by the computer.

Live centralised accounting is made feasible for many remote villages as the data can be uploaded to central server as and when needed. All errors of omission and commission, compensatory errors are prevented

It has reduced overhead expenses. It also provides regular contact with the assigned bookkeeper with rest of the group members.

This system offers information to various stakeholders apart from SHG members. Individual SHG members can get information on their cumulative savings, loan outstanding as well as the overall fi – nancial position of their group. The bank manager can assess performance of the SHGs with respect to loan repayment from the accounting records. The VOs can observe regularity in terms of attendance of members and savings in each meeting. Receipts and payments statement,

BOOK-KEEPER

The e-Bookkeeper works as a paid service provider recording transactions while SHG meeting is conducted. She writes the books of all SHGs in the VO. She is provided an initial training for 7 days on basics of the use of computers and laptops. Most of the e-Book-keepers are matriculates or higher secondary passouts, and most had never before seen a laptop in their life.

They are paid Rs 2000/-, monthly. Active and interested women from the community based organisations having bookkeeping knowledge who are ready to take up the responsibility are being preferred as e-Book-keepers in these districts. A total of 4944 such women are to be selected to work as eBook-keepers.

SCALING

As per the Department of Rural Development, e-Bookkeeping will be extended to all the VOs within the project period in a phased manner. Within this fi nancial year (2009-10) it will be extended to 5000 VOs. The project will be extended, in the next fi nancial year (2010-11), to 5000 more VOs and by the end of Sept 2011 it will be extended to all the VOs of the State. The scaling will be done in all the 22 Project districts in 371 mandals comprising of 4944 villages.

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