Disha India Micro credit(DIMC) is promoted by Disha Social Organisation(DSO). DSO was founded nearly two decades ago in 1984 in Sultanpur Chilkana area of Saharanpur district in Uttar Pradesh following felt need of an organisation committed to social and economical development of the people. Initial work included creation and strengthening of bonds with the community through activities in health and education sectors. Emphasis at that point was on mobilization of people, especially women belonging to Dalit, backward classes and minorities for social change.
Increasing awareness among the women led them opening up and instances of violence against women started pouring in. This laid the foundation of the activity legal aid to women and prevention of violence against women. Today, these two activities form one of the core activities of DSO.
Disha’s beginnings are rooted in the ideology of promoting the rights of the weak and marginalized. The organization has always relentlessly strived to capacitate people to fight themselves for their rights and demand justice for their existence and development. With the target group of poor, marginalized, exploited, Dalits, Muslims, Other Backward Classes and minorities in India, Disha led a number of successful people’s movements like equal wages In agricultural work to women, rights of people surviving on minor forest produces, land reforms, anti-liquor movement, and demanding land for poor people in governments land distribution programme. Facing the challenges of a traditional patriarchal society and rigid power structures, Disha crusaded for gender equity in the region.
Down the line, DSO realized that the missing link between social movements and sustainable change is the absence of an economic back up. We could not achieve a holistic development because economic insecurity downplayed the fruits of social awareness and empowerment and rendered people vulnerable to the exploitation by the powerful sections of the society. In the wake of this formidable challenge, DSO introduced the concept of Self-Help-Groups in the region, in the year 1994, as collective units for thrift, income generation and enterprise development.
Initially the going was tough because the women were suspicious of financial transactions with anyone, as at that time non-banking financial institutions had duped investors of millions of rupees. But once a few SHGs were formed and started giving financial scope and viability to the women, the caravan started moving. Soon, SHGs of men, farmers and non-farmers also came up. What began as a small step later grew by leaps and bounds. Till date there are 1575 SHGs with a total membership of more than approximately 19,000. They have savings worth more than 2 Crores and have accrued loans from different banks to the tune of 3 Crores. NABARD supported Disha in the SHG –Bank linkage scheme. Around mid-2001, work of organizing women into SHGs started in valley area of Dehradun district too.
In the past few years, the number of groups in the community has increased and the demand for credit is on a rise. The Nationalized banks have definitely made an entry in the rural markets, yet there is a huge discrepancy between what is decided at their policy level and what is implemented at the grassroots. We at Disha realized that through our SHGs, a chain of economic development has set in, and unless the demand for credit is met timely, this chain will not be able to sustain. This led to the launching of our Microfinance program from June’2006 through a new concern DIMC.
Disha envisions Microfinance as an answer to most of the questions of sustainable development confronting rural regions, as an instrument for launching a frontal attack on poverty and unemployment and a step towards holistic empowerment that the organization has dreamed of. Expecting an all round economic, social and political development of the community through Microfinance, Disha has initiated this programme in Saharanpur,Dehradun, Sirmaur and Uttar Pradesh, Uttaranchal and Himachal Pradesh and respectively. The organization also looks at Microfinance program as an avenue for Organizational sustainability. Having raised funds for various developmental projects for more than two decades, Disha aims to work towards its own sustainability as well. Microfinance at Disha has taken off well and the Management as well as staff in the organization is highly committed towards taking this venture to greater heights.