Promoting Village Livelihoods Facilitation Centres in India 050309
Promoting Village Livelihoods Facilitation Centres in India
- Towards promotion and strengthening of micro Enterprises –
Access to sustainable livelihoods can only help poor and marginalized families to come
out of vicious cycle of poverty. Micro Enterprise seems to be an integral part of portfolio
of sustainable livelihoods activities at family level. However, micro Enterprises can not
flourish with in the boundary of household as a unit.
Micro Enterprise, like any other enterprise operates within the framework of demand and
supply for a particular product or service. Consumers of micro Enterprises may be with in
the vicinity of household or even in a distant international market (like in case of
handicrafts). Micro enterprises (being small), always feel the need to work together like
buying raw materials in bulk and selling finished products in bulk. Similarly, it is difficult
for existing micro Enterprises (due to need for investment) to graduate and take up value
addition/processing related activities. There is need for common facility centres like for
processing and storage. In recent years, there has been emergence of new form of micro
enterprises, with focus on rural households as consumers. This includes micro enterprises
selling consumables and agriculture inputs. In this context, large corporate entities find it
difficult to identify potential enterprises to take up distribution of their products.
While household seems to be ideal unit to anchor micro enterprises, the micro enterprises
cannot sustain/grow with out organic linkage with outside World. It is difficult for a poor
family to actively engage in linkages beyond the village point. Similarly it is also very
difficult for outside market players (both buyers and sellers) to engage directly with the
households at village level. This calls for systematic interface and facilitation for
livelihoods (including micro Enterprises) at village level.
In India, historically, village has been the most ideal economic unit where the caste based
occupations prevailed. There was an element of interface and self help amongst these
livelihood activities. However, during last few decades, our focus on enterprise
development focused more on block, district or State as a unit. As we moved further,
there is increasing emphasis on global marketplace than village marketplace. This has led
to increasing vulnerability of micro enterprises. In the process, many of the traditional
micro Enterprises i.e. carpentry and black smith has vanished.
Vrutti Livelihoods Resource Centres,
1st Main, 1st Cross, Ashwath Nagar, Bangalore, India
In the past livelihood promotion efforts centred on area based approach (like watershed
development), group based approach (like Self Help Groups), joint forest management
(focusing on hamlet) or individual centric approach (like in most enterprise development
program). The focus of decentralized governance has also been Gram Panchayat (cluster
of villages traditionally not connected with each other). With experience, there has been
realization to focus on village as a unit like village watershed, village organization
(federation of SHGs), and Vana Surakhya Samiti (focusing on whole village). The focus of
decentralized governance has also shifted to Palli Sabha (village as a unit) than on Gram
However, as far as enterprise development is concern, we still consider individual or
group (like Self Help Group) as a unit of promotion NOT the household. The limited
support to micro Enterprises gets routed directly to the individual or group. There is
limited focus on village as a unit.
If we relate to enterprise development as a theme, in case of SME and major enterprises,
there has always been focus on clustering of enterprises through industrial zones and
export zones. However, when it comes to micro Enterprises, unknowingly, we dilute the
traditional cluster i.e. in many cases a village.
Considering the shift in focus from village economy to global economy; and our
inadequate focus on village focus micro Enterprise facilitation, there has been limited
success with regards to sustainability and growth of micro Enterprise.
In this context, Village Livelihood Facilitation Centres can play key role in reviving the
existing micro Enterprises and also in promoting new micro Enterprises. As at this
juncture, it is difficult to visualize Village Livelihood Facilitation Centres, there is need for
experimenting different models. This may relate to profile of micro Enterprises,
availability of resources for livelihood interventions and strength/weaknesses of different
village based Community Organizations.
Typically, Village Livelihoods Facilitation Centres can start providing information (on
availability of product/produce and market opportunities), facilitate
market/procurement linkages and start providing common facility centre services (like
for storage, processing, etc). In due course some of the Facilitation Centres can even grow
Village Livelihoods Facilitation Centres can be promoted linking to any village focused
livelihood related interventions like village watershed projects or Village Knowledge
Centres (e governance initiatives). In the long run such facilitation centres can be
financially supported by Gram Panchayats (part of the revenue also coming from
services), technically supported by local Civil Society Organizations (CSO) and
management/governance being with the village level Community Based Organization
like Palli Sabha, Village Organization or Watershed Association.