Youtube Icon Twitter Icon Facebook Icon
Home » Faqs


Self-Help Groups (SHGs) are voluntary gatherings of 20 people, usually from amongst the poorest of the poor in an area, who start to meet weekly, decide on their own group rules, and are taught to save and budget their own resources. In their weekly meetings they are encouraged to discuss and seek solutions to personal and community issues, and to resolve conflicts. In time they give each other loans from their joint savings and this gets them out of the hands of the money-lenders who charge exorbitant rates of interest. They use the loans to trade or start small businesses and this improves their economic situation; but they also work to improve their communities in whatever ways they see fit.
Absolutely! - All that is provided to the groups is facilitation, training and experience of the process. They are not given any money or resources, although we do provide them with individual savings books. Success brings a huge sense of achievement, because they have done it all themselves!
No, in fact most groups tell us that the greatest benefit is social. In discussing and solving their problems together and supporting each other through times of hardship and joy, friendships and relationships are formed that in many cases are stronger than family ties. There are also political changes: Individuals grow in confidence through participation in group meetings and often end up standing for elected office at local level.
Anybody who’s poor enough! The community is surveyed and the poorest members are invited to form groups. There are no distinctions made on religious, ethnic or gender lines. Some join in the hope of receiving ‘handouts’ and then leave when it becomes clear that members must contribute their own resources. But a year or so later many more want to join when they see the difference it has made.
Your money will go towards all the activities that support the establishment, facilitation, training, and development of SHGs in Ethiopia. This includes the training and employment of facilitators, the training given to the groups, the workshops run for communities, government, and staff, the monitoring and evaluation of the programme and the costs of obtaining funding.
The short answer is that it takes on average 7 years before groups working together no longer need Tearfund support. After 2-3 years neighbouring groups form Cluster Level Associations (CLAs) and they begin to facilitate each other and start new groups in their locality. However they still need training, oversight and access to resources. Eventually a set of CLAs form themselves into a Federal Level Association (FLA) and the Federation starts to provide the training, envisioning, monitoring and access to resources that Tearfund formerly gave. At this point the programme in an area becomes self-sustaining. Tearfund still maintains relationships with the groups but essentially they manage themselves. It’s like when children leave home!
Groups are dependent upon Tearfund support while they are growing and learning and establishing themselves. If our funding levels drop then new groups cannot be started in new areas and the quality of our support for existing groups will decline.
The basic idea is similar but Agarnet links you not with just one child and its family, but with up to 20 families and around 60 or 70 children. For the same amount of money a month many more people benefit and in a self-sustainable way.
In Ethiopia primary school education is free but parents still have to supply uniforms, pens, pencils and exercise books. For some families this expenditure is large compared to income and so not all children go to school. In some places the nearest school is too far for the youngest children to be able to walk so starting school is delayed. In other places the road is too dangerous for the girls to walk, especially on their way home, so they remain at home. At ploughing and harvest times in rural areas the whole family can be involved in work in the fields so children are sometimes kept off school.
We don’t give our groups anything other than training and the support of a facilitator. The whole idea is that they help themselves! And members of mature groups say this is a good thing –it helps people to stand on their own two feet and to learn to solve their own problems. So gifts are inappropriate. But if you would like to send them a card on the anniversary of their founding or to write them a letter of encouragement then we will ensure that they receive it.