Episode 240 - Dr. Medha Samant: Women's Empowerment Through "Credit-Plus" Microfinance in India

Monday, May 21, 2018, 7:53:52 AM

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In this episode, our guest Dr. Medha Samant discusses the history and implementation of Annapurna Pariwar, a group of five developmental organizations working in India since 1993. Its goal and mission is to empower poor women and their families related to their finances, education, and health. Dr. Samant describes how she optimizes social workers' skill sets in service to the mission and how she overcame institutional resistance to microfinance efforts to empower the poor.

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Average Rating: 4.4 stars (8 listener reviews )

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Average Rating: 5stars  self-sufficiency in social work practice , Monday, February 04, 2019

By Terese Caiazza :

Dr. Samant’s podcast was extraordinarily empowering, packed with information, and supports a well-echoed message about the necessity of client self-sufficiency in social work practice. As an undergraduate sociology student, parts of my curriculum touched briefly upon Microcredit/Microfinance, as well as its drawbacks and benefits. As a feminist and social work grad student, I find Dr. Samant’s gender-based motivations for microcredit institutions to be particularly empowering. The basic premise of the Microcredit “movement” is pretty simple: poor people who can’t get a loan at a commercial bank are able to receive small, realistically repayable loans to help turn their lives around. More complex, though, is the way in which focusing this movement on women (poor women or women in certain geographic regions in particular) has a unique impact on individuals, family systems, and poverty as a whole. The whole family is much more likely to benefit when a woman is doing the earning, because family income centered around men operates as a trickle-down system rather than a system of shared wealth. On the other hand, In many cultures, women are considered to be the closest to children, and therefore the most motivated to care for and help them get educated. As part of her closing advice to young social work students, Dr. Samant states that “we cannot solve the problems of human beings only by counseling them, only by giving them advice...but we have to understand that becoming financially self-sustainable is the need, and is the basis of becoming a respectable human being.” Dr. Samant’s reminder affirms an important message to all of us who work in the human service and “helping” professions: the best practices of trauma-informed and human-rights based work favors empowerment strategies and prioritizes client self-sufficiency. It’s necessary that we allow people and communities to be self-sufficient, even if we provide the initial resources, connections, microcredit, etc.

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Average Rating: 4stars  empowering women, Tuesday, October 09, 2018

By Estella :

This was a very empowering and intriguing podcast. In my experience working with vulnerable populations, women are the glue that holds families together. The empowerment of women is essential for building stronger economies and improving the quality of life for women and their families. The implementation of Annapurna Pariwar is an innovative way of including women financially and empowering women in a holistic approach. Microfinancing generates sustainable growth for women and Dr. Samant really aimed to address the issue by first understanding the system in which women may be oppressed and then reacting to it. It makes sound economic sense to invest in women who are low on the socioeconomic status because it can boost/improve the economy, communities, and reduce poverty.

Great Podcast!

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Average Rating: 5stars  social work and finance, Monday, October 08, 2018

By Sarah Huerta Well :

When thinking about banking and loans, social work is not the first thing that comes to my mind. However, as Dr. Medha Samant so beautifully shared, Annapurna Pariwar is a combination of the world of finance and social work values and skills. This podcast effectively shares how like minded individuals with different backgrounds come together to create Annapurna Pariwar, which has now become the work of several collaborating organizations. As social workers, we have skills that are extremely transferable, thus the options we have available to us are many. This was a lovely reminder that we as social workers need not limit what we do, yet if we think creatively and outside the box, we will find just how appropriate and useful the social work experience and perspective can be to an variety of areas. Dr. Samant showed us how meeting the people where they were at, listening to their story, and allowing them to guide the process resulted in what is now called Annapurna Pariwar. Rather than create an entirely new program from scratch, she began the work with what the people were already doing (self-help groups). She saw the need, saw what was already put into place from the people themselves, and expanded on that idea to help create what exists today. This is social work.

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Average Rating: 5stars  great pod cast., Monday, October 08, 2018

By Gary Ye :

I would have never thought that the scope of social work could be so vast ranging. This podcast really showed me how important having a social work background is and how much of a difference we can make in all sorts of work.

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Average Rating: 4stars  an interesting perspective, Monday, October 08, 2018

By Sara L. :

I thought that this podcast was extremely interesting and insightful in regards to the level in which social workers can help people. I never really made a connection between micro-financing and banking and how it can be a social work practice. I believe that this organization is doing great things in order to empower the people and make them feel like that they can handle their own finances. The only thing for me personally is that I am not too good with numbers, so I do not believe that this would be something that I would want to pursue but it can be options for other people.

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Average Rating: 4stars  changing the way we look at money, Saturday, October 06, 2018

By Melissa Cirina :

The story Annapurna Pariwar is an inspiring example of what interdisciplinary work can accomplish. The work of this program is trauma-informed, culturally competent, and a wonderful example of what community based organizations can grow to achieve. Innovation is not always novel ideas and can be everyday services reimagined. Individuals should never second guess how their skills can be applied to create social change. A banker and a social worker may look very different until you recognize the opportunity to address access to resources and financial literacy and a tool for empowerment. I know I will never think of finances in quiet the same way after listening to the innovative practices that allowed Annapurna Pariwar to be the success that it is. Whether you are a micro, mezzo, or macro level practitioner, at some point you may want reevaluate how you view money. If we can find ways as social workers to harness financial capital in order to raise our clients up rather than see it as a barrier to overcome, I believe there will be a shift in how we approach poverty, funding, and the systems surrounding us.

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Average Rating: 4stars  be fearless!, Tuesday, October 02, 2018

By Jessica Brown :

This podcast was challenging for me because just like the stereotype of social workers I feel that i am not very gifted with data and numbers, and financial terms send me brain into "yellow alert". However, a lack of financial literacy for social workers does mean a lack of ability to confidently and effectively advocate for micro and macro-level changes to benefit poor people we work for. Thank you for this insight!

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Average Rating: 4stars  women's empowerment, Tuesday, September 18, 2018

By gb :

I found the explanation of the grassroots efforts that led to assistance for hundreds of thousands and even millions of women to be very inspiring. Dr. Samant described in some detail how her “over idealistic” plan associated with microfinance blossomed into asset building, food security and improved healthcare and education for an enormous number of Indian families. Considering that many social workers seem to shy away from math and science, I appreciated the way Dr. Samant was able to take the fear out of finances and related it to being comfortable identifying client service needs, whatever they may be, and finding a way to address them. I thought that Dr. Samant gave clear examples of how extreme poverty can lead to trauma. Examples including children of working families left alone and potentially exploited and lack of accessibility to adequate medical services potentially leading to further sufficiency issues really helped provide a clear connection between poverty and trauma. It was very uplifting to think about the programs of Annapurna Pariwar working toward social and economic justice for women and families and addressing gender equality, food security, education and child care. The use of empirical data and evidence based practice when looking toward new projects seems to add to the credibility and validity of these pursuits. This podcast provided a wonderful opportunity to be able to hear how about a program from its inception to present day, including those bumps along the way that are almost inevitable. Thank you, Dr. Samant, for sharing this window into your world.

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