Sri Vidya Trust (SVT) is a registered public charitable trust located in Sabbavaram Mandal, Andhra Pradesh, India, close to Visakhapatnam, founded and led by Dr. N. Prahlada Sastry, formerly a nuclear scientist at the Tata Institute For Fundamental Research (TIFR), Bombay.
SVT has run 45 non-formal education night schools, manages a local savings program, and has designed prototypes of a low cost geodesic dome house appropriate for rural areas. The primary areas that SVT works in are education, the empowerment of women and affordable housing for the rural poor. SVT is now diversifying into media outreach and medical assistance programs.
Some of the accomplishments since its inception in 1988:
- Schools providing free education to 1500 children
- Over 2500 women in 30 villages organized for self-reliance and freedom from the grips of local moneylenders. Today these women maintain a rural bank of their own, lending about 5 million Indian rupees (about US$ 100,000) every year to themselves and the local community.
- A unique temple for the Mother Goddess in the sacred form of a Sri Chakra at Devipuram, which has grown into a center for spiritual empowerment.
Sri Vidya Trust, a voluntary agency based in Visakhapatnam district started working with women in the rural areas in the year 1992. The Thrift and credit was viewed as an entry point for the ultimate objective of overall Women’s development. This intervention was to first raise the economic independence of the women and thereby paving the way for social and political empowerment.
As far as the intervention with thrift and credit is concerned we may say that Sri Vidya Trust has been largely successful in making it a people’s movement having promoted the formation of the society namely Jagruthi Mutually Aided cooperative Thrift society Ltd., registered in 1995 under the A.P Mutually Aided Co-operative Societies Act 1995. This Act enables the societies to function in an independent manner with member participation and least involvement of Govt. officials or depts.
Women power awakening from its’ slumber and leading the world towards peace and harmony- this is what Jagruthi means.
As on 31st March 2001, we are presently working in 52 villages with 3229 members. The cumulative savings and cumulative loans have also gone up from Rs.. 2,708,622 & Rs. 9,204,345/- as on March ‘ 2000 to Rs.31.8 lakhs /-(3.1 million rupees) & Rs.1.185 crores (Rs.11.85 million rupees) respectively as on March 2001.The total capital base is around Rs 45 lakhs (4 million rupees).
As per the society bylaws the society is managed by the Managing Director elected from among the Board of Directors (9 in number). She is responsible for the day to day running of the society and is ably assisted in this by the staff. The President Smt. G Mahalaxmi too evinces active interest in new activities apart from her role as President. The Vice President Smt.M Appalakonda has played an important role in motivating the women w.r.t. health problems etc.
ROLES AND FUNCTIONS OF BODY OF DELEGATES AND DECISION MAKING
A delegate is primarily a representative of 50 members i.e. 10 groups, representing the interests of the groups in various situations; in effect a bridge between the Board and the groups. Delegates elected are in office for a period of 3 years and are eligible to be elected as Director on the Board of Directors provided that such delegate is neither violating the Act nor the framed bye-laws. The Board of Directors constituted thus is the decision making body of the society and is answerable to the General Body of the Society which is the ultimate authority on the affairs of the society.
The Board which meets periodically, primarily admits members, plans and budgets, formulates rules of business and administration, control all financial affairs, formulate policies on staff matters etc. In order to implement the decisions of the Board, a Managing Director is elected from among the Board.
At present the delegates too are invited to attend the Board meetings held once a month so that they may increase their awareness and knowledge about the various rules of the society as well as reasons for the adoption of certain procedures.
This is done with the view that they in turn will be able to explain various items under consideration in the right perspective to the group leaders. The delegates may at best recommend any point to the Board but do not have the right to cast a deciding vote themselves. The Board meetings are conducted regularly every month at the Society office with an agenda pre prepared and posted to all concerned. The minutes are recorded and circulated.
The staff are appointed by, and work within the frame specified by the M.D.
The role of the NGO in this body or its decisions is nil. The advice is given when solicited by the directors etc. The members’ active decision making and analysis can be best observed while they scrutinize the loan proposals and also formulating new policies for members.
ROLES AND FUNCTIONS OF DELEGATES AND LOCAL LEADERSHIP AT VILLAGE LEVEL
At the village level, each 5-member group is formed with members’ well known to each other and willing to vouchsafe for one another. When a member wants to take a loan from the society, first the group is consulted regarding the purpose and amount of the loan. If the group consents to the loan proposal, the loan application is then made out and submitted to the concerned delegate who then processes it at the next level, depending upon the amount of the loan. . Loan applications for an amount less than Rs.2,000/- are considered on the day of thrift collection at the village level itself, the decisions being taken by the delegate/s with group leaders depending on the purpose and amount available for loaning. The field organizers and/or other staff are there to guide them in the case of wrong assessment or judgment.
In cases of amount exceeding Rs.2,000/- the loan applications have to be given a month in advance and the loan sanctioning authorization lies with the Board of Directors who at present meet once a month (30th or 31st). In this case, the loan application should reach the office latest by the 20th of that month so as to enable the processing of the application. The Board in its meeting and discussion with the loan applicant after going through all the applications, sanctions those eligible for the next month depending on the projected availability of funds.
COLLECTION OF SAVINGS
A schedule has drawn up in such a way that between the 1st and 20th of every month collection of savings is done in all villages covering all the villages once a month. The savings amount varies from Rs.10 to Rs.100 per month generally .
A member of the society is eligible to avail a loan from the society only after 3 months of joining the society. The amount of loan a member is eligible to avail is up to 3 to 5 times the total amount of her savings. Each member seeking a loan should first place a loan application in the prescribed format co-signed by the other 4 group members. The application depending upon the amount of loan is processed through the appropriate channel and sanctioned by the Board (for loans exceeding Rs. 2000) or the delegates and group leaders as the case may be. During prioritization of the loans more emphasis is placed on productive rather than consumptive loans for loans exceeding Rs.2000, due consideration is also given to loans taken for health or education purposes. The member is then required to sign a promissory note for the sanctioned amount with the other 4 members of her group signing as co-guarantors. The loan is given directly and to the member only.
Monitoring of loans: In the case of the loan being for a productive asset, close monitoring is done to see that the asset is really bought and being utilized properly. On behalf of the group it is the group leaders responsibility to ensure that loans taken by the group members are paid back regularly. Every month a loan demand schedule is drawn up and taken to the village on the date of collection by the field organizers who ensure that everyone pays their loan installments and thrift on time. A 3 day grace period has also been extended to members for the payment of loan/thrift in which case the amount has to be paid at the society’s office at Sabbavaram. With this provision it is hoped to reduce the number of loan defaulters.
The various books of accounts are being maintained by the staff of the society under the close supervision of the Managing Director who is in charge of day to day administration affairs with the help of the Coordinator. The books of accounts being maintained are admission registers, cash book, ledger, receipt books, receipt scrolls, payment scrolls, member wise ledgers, stock book etc. The society holds savings accounts in the nearby banks, viz. State Bank of India, Visakha Grameena Bank and Vysya Bank. The bank accounts are operated by any two out of three of the President, Vice-President and Managing Director with the Managing Director in common.