The State Government had taken a policy decision to set up self-help groups as a major poverty alleviation imitative with a view to ensuring a robust economic growth that would be labour intensive and equitable combined with development of the social sectors specially directed towards the poor. Various programmes administered by different Departments of the Central and the State Government, SHG Bank Linkage programme initiated by NABARD and the social intermediation programme followed by NGOs have accelerated the process of organizing the poor particularly women into Self-help groups. In West Bengal, more than 1,00,000 self-help groups have been formed by different organizations (both Government and Non-Government) with Swarna Jayanti Gram Swarojgar Yojana (SGSY-SHG based programme implemented by Rural Development Department) contributing formation of about 55699 SHGs.

          Although we have about 20 programme operating in Self-help group mode, it has been felt that optimum use of these resources available under these programme are not being made at the district level and SHGs are being formed programme-wise without any specific assessment of employment potential or requirement of the area on the whole. Very recently, State Government has taken initiative for convergence of SHG based programmes at grass roots level by formation of Federation of SHGs at different levels for augmentation of livelihood opportunities of SHG members and for extending outreach of basic services to the poor people specially women members. The detailed guidelines for convergence and the model for the federation of SHGs are annexed.

          Initially, 15 blocks in five districts have been selected for experimentation of this project in our State.

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