Aastha Credit Cooperative Society Limited seeks to empower women living below the poverty line through the Self-Help Group loans they offer.
Disbursed solely to ladies who possess the skills to begin a craft business but lack the money necessary to start up or expand their own
businesses, Aastha’s Self-Help Group loans comprise the vast majority of their financial operations. Case study research specifically on
Aastha’s Self- Help Group process indicates that ladies involved in Aastha’s Self-Help Group program initially discover Aastha via their
friends and neighbors. Word-of-mouth publicity has indeed proven to be an effective means of advertising for Aastha concerning the Self-Help
Group loan scheme, as 221 Self-Help Groups have formed under Aastha since the society’s birth, a figure that continues to grow.
After initially hearing about Aastha, ladies who are interested visit Aastha’s branch to learn more about the process of taking out a
loan. Following this educational session, the ladies recruit other women, usually friends, family or neighbors partaking in the same craft,
to form a 10-woman Self-Help Group. This group then elects a group leader who assumes the responsibility of tracking individual payments
within the group as well as maintaining contact with Aastha each month to pay the loan installments. After the initial Self-Help Group
formation the ladies return to Aastha to fill out a loan application. Once this application has been processed, Aastha staff travels to the
homes of the women in the Self-Help Group to investigate their business and work ethic, assessing whether or not these women will be
reliable in repaying their loan installments. During this assessment visit, Aastha’s staff members look for hardworking and organized
women who have strong relationships with their fellow Self-Help Group members, and consequentially are more likely to hold each other
accountable and pay back their loan. If the Self-Help Group applying to Aastha passes this assessment visit, they return to Aastha within
days of the investigatory visit for the loan signing ceremony, at which time they receive their money.