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  Social Responsibility

Rural Development
Published on: Feb. 13, 2020, 6:40 p.m.
TVS' Trust has field staff that live in villages and are devoted to development
  • Providing advice and support

By Business India Editorial

n 1996, Venu Srinivasan, chairman & managing director, TVS Motor (TVSM) and Sundaram Clayton Ltd. (SCL), established, in the memory of his late father, the Srinivasan Services Trust (SST) as the social arm of SCL and TVSM. Over the next two decades, SST has expanded the holistic and sustainable development of rural communities from two villages in Tamil Nadu to over 5,000 villages in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.

The rural development projects of SST attempted to achieve its aim by improving the socio-economic status of people through a multi-pillar approach of strengthening the education system, providing access to water, sanitation and irrigation facilities, improving health services, developing community infrastructure, and creating a clean and green environment.

Being a not-for-profit agency, SST works with more than 280 field staff that live, work in villages and are devoted to development in rural areas. The SST field staff spend up to a year building trust among local residents and village elders before setting up formalised programmes to improve local livelihood. SST adopted the model of Self Help Groups (SHGs) for rural development. These programmes first helped women and farmers form SHGs. Then SST facilitated regular meetings to educate and monitor members’ contribution to and utilisation of collective savings. After an SHG reached relative maturity as measured by its cumulative savings, record keeping, and consistent loan repayment, SST helped villagers initiate and scale-up income-generating projects (IGPs) using loans from local public sector banks. These IGPs enabled villagers to augment their daily farming income by participating in activities such as soap manufacturing, silk making, basket weaving, baking, or producing banana chips.

Helping women address issues within and outside families and involving women in village development initiatives and recognising their contribution to society was a key focus area. With skills training, these women became successful managers of micro-enterprises. This gave them the confidence to accumulate savings, raise their living standards and find a voice in society. In doing so, they became flag bearers of change in their own communities. Once SST’s services were familiar to villagers in an area, those from nearby villages often originated contacts directly and requested SST’s assistance.

SST also supports local government agencies and assists communities to draw benefits of the government healthcare programmes. SST works with various stakeholders to provide health care to communities. From educating communities on preventive care to helping change habits, from renovation of primary health care clinics to implementation of government schemes on the ground, this is a multi-pronged approach. SST also supports local government agencies and assists communities to draw full benefits of the government healthcare programmes.

Multi-pronged approach Sanitation and nutrition remain SST’s focus on creating awareness. Women and children are given access to Primary Health Centre (PHC) and Health Sub-Centre (HSC) through health services and demonstrations regarding the issues that affect their well-being. SST has supported PHC/HSC to deliver preventive and curative healthcare in more than 4,500 villages.

For their pioneering work in empowering over 4,00,000 rural women to become self-reliant, SST received the Times of India Social Impact Award 2011. Half a decade later, TVS Motor was chosen the Economic Times Corporate Citizen of the Year 2016, for applying principles of running a top-class business to improving livelihoods of marginalised communities towards a holistic development. The company’s commitment to all-round improvement and its contribution toward creating thousands of micro-entrepreneurs were applauded. With a CSR budget of about Rs10 crore, SST has achieved an impressive standard of grassroots impact. The secret was channelising the rural enthusiasm in the right direction through advice and support, rather than mere money and resources.

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