The Beginnings of Microfinance:
Access to savings and loans was one of the primary demands of members. Hence, SEWA started its activities in Delhi by forming SHGs in Jahangirpuri, Raghubir Nagar and Sundernagri. Initially the SHGs also served as a platform to organize members.
For a couple of years the members were happy and satisfied being part of SHGs. However, later on, the SHGs were not able to satisfy all of their demands and they started demanding another alternative. SEWA Delhi organized an exposure visit to SEWA Bank in Ahmedabad for the SHG leaders. This proved to be a turning point for the microfinance programme of Delhi.
The SHG leaders were very impressed with the work they saw in Ahmedabad and started rooting for their own institution in Delhi as well. Thus, after a number of community meetings, it was decided to form a thrift and credit cooperative society in Delhi, the ownership of which would rest with the members. 234 women came forward and contributed Rs. 500/- each towards the share capital. In total share capital of Rs. 99,30,100/- was raised. However a long struggle awaited members. The Registrar office of cooperative societies was not convinced that a group of semi educated women can run their own institution. After repeated visits and arguments, which lasted for more than a year, Mahila SEWA Urban Cooperative Thrift & Credit Society Ltd. was finally registered in February 2007. The elected representatives in the board are members of SEWA, and they actively participate in the decision making.