What is Group/Somity and why ?

Those people who are failure to fulfill their basic need, like minded and have similar financial status, definite number of female and male from them are taken together to form a somity for micro-credit program to achieve the goal. Generally a somity is constituted with forty persons maximum. Somity members will meet at a definite place weekly/fortnightly/monthly to hold a meeting. To run the somity efficiently the group members will select their chief and one assistant chief every after one or two years.
In case of somity management, the somity may run by the combined efforts of all the members or it can run by forming more than one small groups. In the theme of small group, the structure of the small group is considered its main structure. At first the small group selects its chief and assistant chief. After words the chief and its associates will select the chief and the joint chief for the somity to Carrey on its activities.
Somity is the important organizing set-up of micro-credit. Members of the somity will collect the installment of the loan, scheduled savings, discuss different issues and will take decisions sitting in a meeting. Micro-credit is the process to build-up awareness, enhance efficiency and to get rid of financial problems. Through the somity, the poor people are organized, take decisions, help each other, bring them under accountability and also create leadership. To resolve their own problems, the members will take initiative combined and discharge all sorts of their own tasks. As a result, importance of the somity in micro-credit process is very important.

Prose's for formation of somity

To form somity, the following steps will have to be taken-
  • For micro-credit process necessary general information collection and preservation;
  • The assigned staff will visit the village and explore the feasibility of somity formation. Such as whether 40-50 poor peoples are available in that village are living permanently in cluster, are they able for keeping touch with each other regularly, are they like minded and financially of similar status along with communication net work etc;
  • If the exploring feasibility report is satisfactory the concerned staff will start the group formation;
  • On the basis of the primary information, decision will be taken to from a somity in a village of that expected working area;
  • Through discussion with the people of the moholla/ village to form a somity the concerned village people are to be organized and they will be explained the purpose of the micro-credit, rules and procedure of the same and as such they will be given understanding about the following points;
  • The difference between the micro-credit processes with the conventional banking system of the country;
  • The role of micro-credit to change the socio-Economic condition of the poor;
  • Landless and wealth less in the eye of micro-credit process;
  • The assigned staff will work with the general mass of the community to inspire them in favor of micro-credit;
  • The staff will select interested and prospective families for the somity;
  • He will assist to select the prospective member from the interested family;
  • The staff will organize and gather the possible members, will describe the purpose, rules & regulations of micro-credit process and will provide training;
  • He will assist to select members of the group as well as to finalize the election;
  • The staff will arrange meeting and training activities at a definite place and time successively with a view to form a somity;
  • Importance is to be given on the status of the house, land property, communication etc of the proposed member. What are the status of village people, what is their profession etc are to be considered and the rules & regulations of micro-credit will have to be discussed as well as to exchange the views with the other members of the family;
  • The staff will fill-up the information form of the interested members and will deposit to the manager;
  • After careful scrutiny of the information forms of the members along with training, the manager will inform the higher official;
  • The somity formation will be completed through the assessment of the high official, interview and consent of the members;

The Conditions of forming a somity

  • The somity members must be landless and wealth less.
  • Formation of somity requires definite number of members will be required.
  • The inhabitants will be side by side villages/ community.
  • The members will be of similar status in respect to financial and social conditions.
  • The members will have to be confident of each other and like minded.
  • Not more than one can be member of the somity from one family.
  • It is better not to form a small group with the nearest relations such as Father, Mother, Brother-Sister, Uncle-Unt, Father-in-law, Mother-in-law etc.
  • Somity cannot be formed with the mad, children and character less persons.
  • Poor people who did not borrow money from other organization will be able to form somity.
  • The member should be interested and physically fit for up lifting his own fate.
  • Those who have no possibility to live permanently and un-married persons etc cannot be included as member in the somity.

Priority to the hard core poor for forming somity

Micro-credit process has been started to reduce poverty. The hard core poor can give labor but can not earn due to went of capital. They have no working capital and the source of the capital is out of their reach. Due to illiteracy and want of knowledge they don’t know the source of easily achievable working capital and as such they cannot ensure their regular earning through out the year. There is no arrangement to build up capacity of the hard core poor. So to form the somity they should be given priority.

Role of the members for formation of the somity

To form somity the role of the members is very important. The success of the micro-credit process depends on the proper formation of the somity. In this case the following subjects are to be ensured-
  • Implementation of the conditions for forming the somity.
  • Active participation of all concerned to form the somity.
  • Selection of member through fellow feelings of each other and analyzing the family status.
  • Receiving the training properly and providing assistance.
  • Rules and regulations of micro-credit process are obeyed by self and to assist others to obey the same.

Role of the staff for formation of the somity

  • To assist formation of the somity is the main responsibility of the staff.
  • The staff will be sure through discussion with the selected members and their family that they are like minded and reliable
  • He will visit the house holds of the members and will be sure that they are land less, wealth less and live side by side or in the village close to them.
  • He will make sure that the conditions for forming the somity are obeyed properly.
  • The staff will observe from close quarters that the members will be able to invest properly the loan money, to repay the loan and to run the saving activities etc.
  • The family member who is interested capable to up-lift the family should be selected as the member of the somity.
  • The person who can receive training and can exercise the same is to be selected as member.
  • Apart from the above, the persons are going to be selected as member, their family head is to be consulted before including them in the somity.

Introductory meeting for formation of the somity

Introductory meeting is to be organized in a selected area for forming the somity. Interested persons are to be gathered at a definite place on a particular day and time. The endorsed staff along with other staffs will attend the meeting and will accomplish the preparatory tasks in favor the somity. Training is to be provided to the members with a view to make their life easy and solvent as well as to up-lift their whole family. This Introductory meeting will have to be continued up to seven days or up to make the parsons prepared as member of the somity. If every body is agreed the savings will be collected in each meeting and to be deposited to the members.
In the Introductory meeting for forming the somity, training is to be provided on rules regulations of micro-credit process, kinds of micro-credit, system of repayment, savings deposition and with-drawl from the group, proposal for loan, distribution, collection and supervision of loan to have the responsibilities of the group by the members. He is to know how to maintain discipline of the group, forming a somity/central or group by taking together some small groups, procedure for operating the somity, responsibility etc.

Role of the staff for introductory meeting

In a selected place near the member’s houses, the introductory meeting will be arranged on the pre decided date and time. The staff will exchanges the good wishes among members and will sit in a disciplined way. He will be acquainted with their family member’s status. Training is to be provided how their life can be made easy and solvent and how to draw their families can be drawn to wards prosperity. Discussion will be done on the point where and how the loan money can be invested to earn maximum profit. The staff will discuss on the rules and regulations of micro-credit, savings, health, education, family planning, members problem, local problems, social programs and other development aspect. He will assist to savings, collection and keeping accounts.
Moreover, he will be provided training on ‘what is somity and why’, conditions of its formation, procedure, the role of the members, selection of members for somity formation. The meeting will be started and ended as per the participant’s schedule.

The role of the manager in Introductory meeting

The manager will verify the progress of the preparatory meeting. He will see the house holds of the members and will justify of formation of the somity. The manager will verify the quality of the already provided training and the information of the members, filled in formats, at the field. Overall, the manager will pass an order to the staff for taking final steps to form the somity.

Somity and the member's endorsement

The member’s endorsement means to gather a definite number of poor people in a particular way and to include them in the micro-credit process. Somity is formed through acceptance of the existing members. The micro-credit staff after providing training to the proposed members will verify the rules-regulations the information format will be filled up and will inform the manager. The manager will justify the training provided and other concerned activities. On verify the filled in formats and information’s in the register the manager will sign the necessary papers and inform his higher authority. The higher authority of the manager will go to the field and observe the overall situation of the proposed members and will give acceptance of the members to the somity. At the time of giving acceptance the somity chief and the assistant chief will have to be finally selected.
The formation of the somity will be completed through opening of accounts in the name of individual member, writing the name of the accepted members in the register (For convenience recording each member should be identified individually in the register), deposition of admission fee and personal savings.
If there is no highest number of members in any somity that somity is know as broken or incomplete one. To include new member in that incomplete somity the possibility and illegibility of the proposed members are to be verified and all the procedures for acceptance will have to be completed.
The responsibility for final approval of the new somity will be shouldered by the regulating authority of the manager i.e. he who controls the higher authority of the micro-credit staff.

Election of the chief/ group leader and secretary of the somity

After approval of the somity, election is to be accomplished, the somity members will consider whether the chief/ gr: leader and secretary of the previous year will continue and if necessary new chief/ gr: leader and secretary will be elected. Generally, the election will be held at a definite time of the year and take-over, make-over will be done accordingly. In case of the somity composed of small groups, president and the secretary of the small groups will have to be elected. Afterwards, the chief/ gr: leader and the secretary of small group will elect the chief/ gr: leader and secretary of the somity. As the somity in the micro-credit process is by of a definite number of landless and wealth less, so to create leadership, equal right and to maintain, discipline the leadership is to be changed after regular interval of time.

Considerable issue for selecting the chief leader and the association chief of the somity

  • Whether the chief/ group leader and the association chief will be able to bear the responsibility to maintain discipline of the somity.
  • Whether will be able to be present in the meeting and can contribute to attend the other members of the somity.
  • Whether will be able to deposit the scheduled installment to the micro-credit staff regularly.
  • Whether the other members are confident on the chief/ group leader and the secretary/ association chief.
  • Whether the proposed chief/ gr. leader and the association chief/ secretary will be able to talk in front of other members and community people.
  • Whether they will be able to spare time for the members.
  • Whether it will be possible for them to follow the rules of the somity.
  • Whether they will be able to carry on the leadership to assist others.
  • Whether they are comparatively learned or not.
  • Whether they are permitted by their families to carry on the responsibility.
  • Whether they know accounts or not.
  • Whether every body will obey their leadership or not etc.

Responsibility of the chief/ group leader of the somity

  • To maintain well communication with the somity regularly.
  • To communicate with the micro-credit staff regularly.
  • To propose justified loan proposal of the members.
  • To supervise and verify the utilization of the loan and to keep the staff informed.
  • To contribute in the repayment of the scheduled installment by the members regularly.
  • To Assistance all the members for attending in the meeting.
  • To collect the installment and savings form the members in a disciplined way and to deposit the money to the staff.
  • To maintain liaison with the members and recommend to the staff if necessary.
  • To keep necessary information of all transactions of the somity.
  • To act as leader of the somity on the social issues etc.

Responsibility of the associate chief/ secretary of the somity

In absence of the chief/ group leader the association chief will accomplish all the responsibilities.
To assist in all works of the chief/ group leader.
To maintain communication with the staff.
To propose justified loan proposal for the chief/ group leader of the somity.
To supervise the utilization of the loan money.

Main forms, formats and registers used for approval of the somity

  • Member information form (where all personal and family information of the proposed member will be recorded).
  • Register for the member (to preserve all information including the group based member number, address, date of approval of the somity).
  • Form to open account.
  • Signature card for opening account.
  • Register for opening the account.
  • Apart from the personal savings, if there is any compulsory saving system and facility of the organization, all those necessary form and registers are to be filled up.

Discipline of the somity

Discipline of the somity is an important issue in micro-credit process. Discipline of the somity means to maintained all the rules and regulations of the somity properly. Ensure the up-liftmen of all members. To attend the meeting all the members in time, preside over the same and come to an end of the meeting as per rules of the somity. To respect each other, exchange views among themselves and to maintain neatness and cleanliness. Give patience hearing to the staff and carryout accordingly. Not to pick up a quarrel, provide necessary suggestions and assistance. Take joint decision on any issue. To obey the leadership of the chief/ gr: leader of the somity. Propose justified loan proposal. Ensure the utilization of the loan money. Supervise the loan activity of each other. Assist the loan distribution properly. In the meeting, installment and saving money are to be handed over to the staff by and by, to collect signature in the pass-book and to continue the meeting until the installments of all the members are deposited properly. Over all to conduct the activity of the micro-credit process in disciplined way.

Reformation of the somity

If there is no required number of members in the somity, if there is no required number of members for a full fledged somity in the locality. If required number of members are long absence in the somity. If there is coast in transecting. If the normal function of the somity is hampered due to indiscipline. If the goal of micro-credit is not achieved. In the circumstances to regularize the activities of the somity, rejection of the membership of unruly members, recruitment of required number of members in the group and if required to change the location and all these steps are known as the reformation of the somity.
The staff will consider the whole status of the somity and will inform the manager. The manager will verify in the field, discuss with the member and his family members along with the well wishers of the locality and will reform the somity accordingly.

Cancellation/ Rejection of the somity

Due to following reasons it becomes necessary to reject the somity or group-
  • If the somity or group does not obey the rules-regulations
  • If there is no confidence among the members
  • Absence of discipline
  • If the members are involved in politics or unsocial activities
  • Absence of required numbers of members for a full fledged somity
  • If derailed from the goal of somity formation
  • If the members are not interested to have service through somity
  • If there is no possibility to reform the somity.
Incase of rejection of the somity the manager will investigates and the justified prayer and recommendation of the staff. The organization will decide the dues of all members. After payment or realized the decided dues the manager will forward all the necessary papers along with the accounts for getting approval in favor of reaction of the somity.

Social and financial impact of the somity

The poor and the hard core poor people of the community become organized and gathered through micro-credit process. They become alert and try to establish their rights. Equality is established in the society. The enthusiastic upper classed people become organized and get co-operation form the community people. The employment opportunity is created for the poor people and as a result they need not pass idle time. Due to increase of their income buying capacity of the somity members goes-up. The financial transaction increases and the total production of the community go up. The somity is saved form the bad effect of money lending.
Due to formation of somity, capacity of the poor people including the above facts are improved, religious environment is established in the community and the status of education and health are improved to a good extent.