Self Help Groups
Self-help group approach
As our entry point into communities and the foundation of all community development initiatives, the Angus Gillis Foundation uses a self-help group (SHG) approach which organizes women into micro-savings and credit groups with a specific purpose of building social and financial capital. The women meet on a weekly basis and save an agreed amount (usually between R2.00 and R5.00); members can also take loans to cover household expenses, which are paid back at a rate of interest mutually agreed by the group. Unlike traditional savings models, the long-term aim is for the group to build the financial capital to establsih a small business which will provide an income for the women and their families. We help formalize the group, help them write their own constitution, and provide training in financial management of their funds and life skills including communication, conflict resolution, starting a small business and leadership.
The programme focuses on the social and economic empowerment of vulnerable women enabling them to withstand shocks to their household and to care for their children. Capacity building training and the mutual support the members receive in the group empowers the women to take control of their own lives and to begin to recognise their potential to play an important role in their community; leading to economic, social and political empowerment.
Women are equipped with the skills and confidence to establish income generation projects to achieve financial independence and to stimulate vibrant village economies. Everything the women learn has a direct positive effect on their household, especially their children.
Cluster Level Associations
Once 6 or more SHGs are established and running well in a village, a Cluster Level Association (CLA) is formed. This CLA is made up of 2 representatives from each SHG and begins to deal with village issues. The CLA tackles issues at a broader community level, including access to clean water, land and other village challenges. They work closely with local government and other service providers. The AGF currently works with three CLAs in Glenmore, Ndwayana and our newest in Ndlambe.
Community Champion model
We work with emergent leadership that has been identified through the SHG process, mentoring and strengthening individuals to act as role models and catalysts for change in their communities in order to bring about genuine and sustainable development. Each locally-based ‘Community Champion’ is responsible for supporting up to 10 SHGs, facilitating life skills workshops, supporting the groups in establishing income generation projects and engaging with local leadership structures, government and service providers to address community issues. So far we have identified and mentored eight Community Champions. Each of these women has already made a phenomenal contribution to her community and the groups which she supports.