THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Over 22.77 lakh women in the state have benefited from ‘Sahayahastham’, the chief minister’s loan scheme, launched to help people who lost their livelihood due to the Covid-19 pandemic. These women are members of 1.95 lakh neighborhood groups (NHGs) under the Kudumbashree - the poverty eradication and women empowerment programme of the government.
The ‘Sahayahastham’ scheme worth Rs 2,000 crore is to provide interest-free loans to the women self-help groups. The participating banks give loans to the NHGs and the 9% interest charged by them is paid by the government. About 40% of the lenders are primary agricultural credit cooperative societies, while the rest include scheduled banks and private banks.
The repayment starts six months after the sanction and has to be completed in three years. The loan amount to a group member ranges between Rs 5,000 and Rs 20,000. Kudumbashree executive director S Harikishore said the disbursal of funds which was started in April is nearing completion. “These are consumption loans aimed to help people who lost jobs or livelihood due to the pandemic. The wide network of the Kudumbashree helped the government reach out to over 22 lakh beneficiaries in a short time,” he said.
The NHGs have a credible track record of repayment, according to Harikishore. “There are nearly three lakh neighbourhood groups under the Kudumbashree having an average loan size of Rs 4.5 lakh. The repayment rate is over 98%, thanks to the joint responsibility of group members,” he said. Among the districts, Thiruvananthapuram tops the list where 2.9 lakh members of nearly 24,000 groups availed themselves of the loans. It was followed by Thrissur with 2.56 lakh members and 20,500 groups.
The government will incur Rs 350 crore as interest subvention for the scheme. In 2018, the government had rolled out the Resurgence Kerala loan scheme to help those affected by the floods. The four-year loan has 98% repayment rate and the government’s spending on interest is around Rs 300 crore. The scheme worth Rs 1,750 crore helped 1.95 lakh members of 26,000 SHGs.
Interest-free loans to women self-help groups
The scheme worth C2,000 cr is to provide interest-free loans to the women self-help groups. The participating banks give loans to the NHGs and the 9% interest charged by them is paid by the government.