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Economic Empowerment

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Economic Empowerment

IMSE implements economic empowerment program among 43,000 rural poor women who are nonfarm rural workers and living below the poverty level in Eastern India. The organisation provides them with skills for setting up household business and integrates them with markets so as to avoid exploitations of intermediaries or mediators, and enabling them to establish their rights over primary resources.

It aims to empower people and elevate them from poverty by progressive means such as education, vocational trainings, rural health care, formation of cooperatives of marginal and sub-marginal peasants and sharecroppers.

Since 1993, IMSE is engaged in Self-Help Group (SHGs) promotion programmes for gainful self-employment of non-farm rural workers, particularly women. SHG promotion entails extension of very small loans to those living in poverty in order to encourage entrepreneurship among poor rural women.
These individuals lack collateral, steady employment and a verifiable credit history and often cannot meet even the minimam qualifications to gain access to traditional credit.

SHG Programme emphasizes on building capacity of a micro-entrepreneur, employment-generation, trust-building and hand-holding support to the micro-entrepreneur on initiation and during difficult times. The SHGs, through their 14-point programme, also encourage poor rural women to develop health-seeking behaviour and fight back social evils of illiteracy, dowry, early marriage, alcoholism and so on.

Altogether 43,000 women are members of the program divided into 25 SHGP branches in 3 states of India--West Bengal, Jharkhand and Orissa. The branches are situated in rural areas only.

IMSE-promoted SHGs are important as it gives poor the access to desirable credit, thereby allowing them to invest in their own future and improve their living standards. The needy can take loans from SHGs without losing their land or other belongings to a moneylender and are able to make investments to start up a small business or expand an already existing one.

IMSE also promotes Right to Food and agrarian reform programmes both policies and their implementation. By doing so, IMSE highlights an alternative paradigm of development, i.e., Food Sovereignty which would encompass basic household needs of the poor and would also ensure ecological sustainability and gender justice.
IMSE is also actively associated with the climate change debate. The organisation works for promotion of Right to Food (RTF), and climate change is further worsening the food security of the existing vulnerable groups. IMSE has been working in reducing the impact of climate change on people's livelihood in West Bengal, Jharkhand and Orissa. The 'Save River, Save Village' movement in Birbhum (W.B.), spearheaded by IMSE, aims at spreading awareness among the villagers towards reducing the effects of climate change and promoting participation in river-water management.

IMSE has also been actively advocating against the use of bio-fuel and propagation of Jatropha plantation, which poses a threat to the livelihood security of people, in Jharkhand. Jatropha plantation, also known as hell oil plant, can be a curse to flora and fauna and lead to destruction of ecological balance.
IMSE has been successful in reducing neo-liberal exploitation in the health sector by promoting Herbal Tribal Medicines in rural areas of West Bengal and Jharkhand through peoples' movements.


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