BACKGROUND TO THESTUDY
The concept of `Self-Help Groups` (SHG) has been given various definitions by different authors. Ghadoliya (2008) remarked that SHG is an instrument of economic empowerment. SHG is a small voluntarily association of poor people, preferably from the same socio-economic background that come together for the purpose of solving their common problems through self- help. Malhar (2009) saw SHGs as small groups of people facing similar problems, helping each other to solve these problems with a reasonably educated but helpful local person taking the lead in mobilizing them. Paul (2011) described SHGs as groups of rural poor comprising of small/marginal farmers, landless agricultural labourers, rural artisans, women folk and other micro-entrepreneurs who organize themselves for socio-economic development by raising, at their level, initial capital supplemented in some cases by funds from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) as seed money for issuing small emergency loans either for consumption or production purposes, or for linking with bank with the help of NGOs. A general definition suggested by Lawal (2000) is that SHGs are groups of farmers or such entrepreneurs who voluntarily organized themselves and who utilized their own resources to undertake social and economic activities in order to address their common needs.
Most communities in Nigeria have awakened to seek ways to satisfy their own needs. The understanding that government does not have the resources to provide for all their needs is the driving force towards this move which has been successful and has led to the growth of such communities (Ali, 2006; Ayuba, 2006; Paul, 2011). Therefore, SHGs exist for development purpose, particularly in the rural areas.
The benefits attached to SHGs cannot be over-emphasized. SHGs are seen to confer many benefits both economical and social. SHGs enable rural people to do their savings and access credit which banks are increasingly willing to lend (Wilson, 2002). Similarly, Lawal (2000) found that SHGs through their activities assist to boost liquidity positions of the branches of the banks, which are participating in the programme through mobilization. Furthermore, SHGs have made a lasting impact on the lives of people particularly in the rural areas and has improved the quality of lives of many and there is an increase in their consumption expenditure. Besides, the SHGs have created better understanding between the members of different religious groups as the members of SHGs belong to different religions (Gaonkar, 2004). Further still, ( Khatibi, 2011; Indira, 2011) observed that SHGs today played a vital role in poverty alleviation through empowerment.
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