The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) initiated the digitising of Self Help Groups (SHGs) in India through their pilot project, e-Shakti. This project began with the aim to address particular concerns such as the quality of bookkeeping of SHGs and assist banks in making informed credit decisions with regard to the groups through the Management Information System (MIS). The project has covered more than 25 districts and over 1.3 Lakh SHGs in terms of digitising. This article talks about e-Shakti NABARD and the various elements of the initiative.
The Micro Credit and Innovations Department of the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) initiated e-Shakti with the aim to transform the country into a digitally empowered society and a knowledge economy. This initiative is a part of one of the biggest campaign ever launched in India, Digital India. This core idea of the campaign is to digitally integrate all the departments of the Government and the people of India in order to ensure effective governance. Borrowing the morals and views of the Government’s mission to create a digital India, NABARD launched the e-Shakti project to digitally enable Self Help Groups (SHGs) around the country. The initiative is set to function in over 100 districts across the country.
Goal and Objectives
The primary goal of the E-Shakti Project is to digitise the accounts of various SHGs and to bring the members of the groups under the fold of Financial Inclusion. This would help them access a wide array of financial services and simultaneously, increases the comfortability of banks in terms of credit appraisal and linkage. These goals can be achieved in the following ways.
- Integration of SHG members with the agenda of Nation Financial Inclusion.
- Improvements in terms of quality of the interface between the members of SHGs and the Banks for efficient and hassle-free delivery of banking services by taking advantage of the available technology.
- Convergence of delivery system with SHGs using an identity linked to Aadhaar.
Features of the Project
The following are the features of the e-Shakti project by NABARD.
- Regular updates on transactional data.
- Online bookkeeping or e-book keeping for SHGs.
- Generation of reports in the formats accepted by various stakeholder such as banks.
- Inbuilt Automatic Grading of these groups according to the NABARD norms.
Auto-generation of loan application for bankers after the input of resolution to borrow by SHGs.
- Constructs a comprehensive information base and develops a robust Management Information System (MIS) facilitating suitable interventions and the convergence of various other programmes by empowering them socially and financially.
- Helps in identifying appropriate interventions and support for the proper nurturing and strengthening of SHGs.
- Simplifying the transfer of Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) and other benefits through the convergence with other Government benefits and Aadhaar linked accounts.
- Every member of Self Help Groups has the advantage of accessing all social and financial information using the e-Shakti software.
The Need for e-Shakti
The irregular and delayed maintenance of books of accounts of SHGs is the main reason why the digitisation of records of SHGs are required. With the power of digitisation, transparent and proper maintenance of the records would nurture and strengthen SHGs internally. Initiating the e-Shakti project would also bring SHGs, through digital empowerment, to a common web-based online platform by simplifying bookkeeping for various clients who find it difficult. It also promotes the national agenda of Financial Inclusion and paves the way of credible SHG data. By doing so, the credibility of these groups can be used by Credit Bureaus in order to bring down the problems related to financing.
The following are the steps taken in order to implement the e-Shakti project for every SHG in India.
- Mapping of existing SHGs in terms of Bank and Branch in the District.
- Training volunteers to obtain SHG and their Members’ data.
- Feeding data through a customised software on the central server.
- Hosting data online under a dedicated website.
- Maintaining data and data recovery centres.
- Updating transactional data regularly.
- Generating Management Information System (MIS) for different users.
Information related to SHGs and their members are uploaded online on the official website. The transactions occurring would be updated through ‘apps’ on a device that is powered by Android. The authenticity of data is ensured through SMS alerts to the members and sample audits. MIS reports on the groups would be generated, and the progress would be tracked on a real-time basis. In overall, the complete ecosystem of the e-Shakti project was designed to address the complicated problem of patchy financial records of Self Help Groups.
Deliverables of the Project
The following would be the output of implementing the e-Shakti project and MIS.
- Memberwise information of SHGs on saving, lending, attendance.
- SHG and member’s credit history.
- Financial statement of SHGs such as Balance sheet and, Profit and Loss account.
- Audit report
- Grading chart of SHGs
- Micro Credit Plan of the SHGs
- Bank linkage details on savings and credit disbursement.
- Other periodical MIS on the performance of Self Help Groups.
Effects of Implementing e-Shakti
The following are the effects of implementing e-Shakti in Self Help Groups.
- SHGs can obtain credit according to their real-time performance.
- Implementing this project has significantly reduced the linkage gap of Saving-Credit.
- The credit history of members is obtained.
- Transparency is promoted through SMS alerts in real time as well as in 10 different languages to the members.
- Helped to combine SHGs with various other Government Programmes.
- Included members of SHGs in the broader agenda of Financial Inclusion.
Implementing the e-Shakti project in Self Help Groups has paved the way for Credit Linkage. The following are the advantages that come along with Credit Linkage.
- Access to bank branches for the portal through the Intranet or the web link with the help of their branch’s IFSC and password.
- Generate more than 31 MIS reports such as Credit Linkage, Savings, Repayment and Demand Collection Balance from the branch of the Bank easily.
- Secure processing of loans with the e-Shakti system as it generates a pre-filled application form with all the required members and group information.
Stakeholders of the Project
The following are the stakeholders of the e-Shakti NABARD project.
- Rural poor communities and members of SHGs
- Non-Government Organisations(NGOs)
- Self Help Promoting Institutions (SHPI)
- National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD)
- National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM)
- Solid and Liquid Resource Management (SLRM)