Mini-Banks and the Women Development Fund

As part of a concerted effort to improve women’s access to finance, RDT’s self-help groups promoted the creation of savings and loan mechanisms.

The aim is to reduce the dependence of women on their families and to offer alternatives to the traditional money-lending sources.


Through self-help groups, RDT started promoting collective saving initiatives like the mini-banks. Women pool their monthly savings and then grant loans among themselves on a rotating basis.

Each self-help group holds an account at the bank or post office in the name of the group with two members as signing authority. Women contribute between 50 to 100 rupees a month.

Although initially RDT staff used to monitor the well-functioning of mini-banks, today members have the sole responsibility of their management.

Women Development Fund

The Women Development Fund (WDF) is a credit facility for higher borrowing created by the Rural Development Trust.

The objective is to facilitate the creation of income generating activities or the development of small businesses. Loans are interest-free and have to be approved by RDT staff and women network leaders.

‘Women to Women’

The Women to Women programme is a group sponsorship programme carried out together with our Spanish partner, Fundación Vicente Ferrer. It aims at extending the possibilities of accessing credit to create businesses.


“Starting group savings and ‘Mini-Banks’ was a turning-point as it broadened women’s their financial possibilities. Instead of borrowing from exploitative sources, now they depended on their peers.”

Mr. Srinivasulu, STL Women Programme


“My husband Marenna and I have always worked as agricultural labourers but work was difficult to come by. Although we have two acres of land, they don’t yield any crops due to lack of rains. We have two daughters and a son, and we needed more money to support the family. I had previously taken loans for children’s education and did not want to be in debt with money lenders. When I joined the Durga Women Group and realised I had the power to change my economic circumstances. ‘Women to Women’ programme granted me a loan for goat rearing. I thought it would be a good idea if one of us should work as a labourer and the other should take care of goat rearing. Now I have 68 goats. Goat rearing has helped us to pay for our daughter Gangamma’s GSM education who is now working in a private hospital. Our daughter Chenamma has completed B.Com and is preparing for her PG entrance exam, while our son Mahesh is studying Intermediate. I am meeting all their financial needs through rearing goats and selling them. Our family has gained a lot of respect in the village.”
Ms. Sakamma, Tenagallu Village, Kundurpi Area, Kalyanadurgam Region