Ekgaon Technologies' innovative online application system enables members of rural SHGs in Tamil Nadu to access their financial information through mobiles. Maintaining accounts is now easier and transparent, and entails quicker access to loans from banks.
Dindigul, Tamil Nadu: Information and Communication Technology is meeting the needs of thousands of rural women in the villages of Dindigul District and bridging the digital divide.
Through the technical support of Ekgaon Technologies some 350 Self Help Groups facilitated by World Vision India’s Palani Area Development Programme now have their accounts online through SHG MIS (Self Help Group Management and Information System).
Mobile enabled SHG MIS is an innovative application for collection of rural SHGs financial information and portrays them on online server to enable anytime and anywhere access
“Earlier we used to maintain 11 record books for one Self Help Group, which consumed a lot of time. Now it is just one receipt book,” says SHG Coordinator Suajata narrating the advantages of SHG MIS.
Finding that main problem in rural financial services is the non-availability of accurate, information that SHG members could use to show their strength, Ekgaon provided a solution in the form of SHG MIS.
“Earlier I used to spend hours together maintaining account books. I didn’t even have time to spend with my children and the community. Now it is not so. All I have to do is enter the details in the mobile phone and send it to the server through SMS,” says Sujata, one of the eight SHG volunteers managing the accounts.
“More importantly, this has reduced corruption within the Self Help Groups. We have faced with instances of literate people exploiting the illiterate who couldn’t verify their accounts. But with digitising the accounts there is more transparency. A woman from any village
can just drop into our office and get her accounts checked or generate a report,” says Finny Varghese, Programme Manager, Palani ADP.
“Women members without any barrier like caste, economic status or level of education can access facilities for their economic development”
Ekgaon reports, “Situational analysis of the rural scenario identified SMS as best delivery mechanism to send the data from rural areas. The application that runs on the mobile allows functioning of the system in non-network coverage area, which actually fit for the Indian rural areas and send the SMS from the queue when the user reaches the network coverage area.
The backend online application has been developed using the open source software of PHP for front end and MySql for database. The SMS gateway receives the SMS and update the online database. The online system generates financial reports, portfolio management reports and accounting reports”.
SHG coordinator Senthil Kumar says, “Now any member can just drop in to our centre and can pull out all the details regarding their saving or loan. We can generate 26 types of reports for them”.
What does this mean to a woman who cannot read or write, living in a remote village? World Vision’s Tamil Selvi, who has been working in the villages for several years, says, “There is no malpractice. Their money is all theirs now. Earlier an SHG collapses if the literate member leaves the group. Now, both a literate and an illiterate can have access to information”.
“Women are able to get loans from the government or nationalised banks much faster now, as the banks can access the account details online. So now women members without any barrier like caste, economic status or level of education can access facilities for their economic development,” says Tamil Selvi.
Source. WorldVision India
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