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Bihar Rural Livelihoods Project

Jeevika (or livelihoods), is the local name for the
 Bihar Rural Livelihoods Project, which is one of the youngest rural livelihoods program, beginning only  in September 2007.


Implemented by the Bihar Rural Livelihoods Promotion Society, the project seeks to mobilize groups of women into socially and financially viable community organizations, who can then go on to access funds from commercial lenders as a group.  The thinking is that commercial banks may not lend to individual poor households, but that they are more willing to lend to an established group or organization, with some credit history behind it. 












The Bihar Rural Livelihoods Project has a basic two-step approach:

  • Social Mobilization. Women in communities are formed into self-help groups and trained in microfinance concepts, encouraged to actively save, to lend money among themselves and to develop micro-credit plans.  When ready, these self-help groups will be federated at the village level, and later into block level federations.
  • Asset Accumulation. Block level federations will manage a community investment fund, which will be used as an initial capital or risk fund by groups. How the groups the use the funds will help them to demonstrate their credit worthiness while addressing basic consumption needs, such as through a community managed food security line. Livelihood activity groups will also be formed and the aim is that these groups together with the federations will be linked to major banks, and other public and private partners in the market.

These two steps will be strengthened by a range of activities to link the rural poor with the private sector.  They include capacity building of livelihood activity groups and federations; collective marketing and trading of agricultural products; and linkages between beneficiary groups and higher value added markets.  Overall, it is hoped that these activities will encourage mainstream banks to include the rural poor in their lending and for such banks to view the poor and the institutions of the poor as viable customers. 



In one year, Jeevika has:

  • entered 285 villages
  • organized about 30,498 households into 2432 self-help groups and 34 village organizations.
  • Cumulative savings of households has reached more than a Rs. 5.44 million and has resulted in inter-loaning of Rupees 9.38 million.
  • The project has disbursed Rs. 2 million in community investment funds to 192 groups and facilitated credit linkages with banks for 123 self help groups to the tune of Rs. 1.61 million.
  • total resources handled by the self help groups including inter-loaning from savings, Community investment fund and bank loans is around Rupees 9 million.
  • The project has also facilitated placement of community mobilizers and bookkeepers to provide support to community organizations.
  • The coverage of System of Rice Intensification (SRI) technology to more than 5000 paddy producers has commenced after encouraging results from pilot initiated last year (i.e., Rabi 2007).
  • Participatory Varietal Selection and Promotion (PVSP) has started with 673 farmers.

Jeevika is working with potential livelihood partners in different sectors like dairy, honey, and crafts. Similar pilots have been launched on entitlements and social services.



In September 2007, the project launched with an Innovation Forum that showcased 25 of the state's foremost innovators and entrepreneurs who had demonstrated solutions for livelihoods in favor of the poor.  The following are some of the innovations from that forum.


Market Solutions for Beekeepers EDA Rural Systems


Bihar is one of the largest honey producing states in India with a large number of poor people depending on beekeeping as their primary source of livelihoods. However, the farmers have been exploited by traders and middlemen and lacked access to credit facilities. To address this problem, EDA Rural Systems, Private Limited, designed and implemented an innovative program which organized bee-keepers into self help groups and federations.


They provided skills training in leading agricultural and research institutes in India and established linkages with Bihar State Co-operative Milk Producers Federation Limited (COMFED) for retail sale, creating a brand image for ‘Bihar Honey’


Key Results: Ties have resulted in doubling the prices received by the bee-keepers from US$0.51 to US$1.54 per kg, The innovation has benefited 4500 families living in 320 villages.


Organizing Fisherwomen Collectives SAKHI


The fishing community is one of the most marginalized sections of Bihar. Government ponds were monopolized by middle men depriving the poor of their rights to fish in public ponds despite several acts and regulations. SAKHI, a non-govern-mental organization in Bihar organized fisherwomen into self-help groups and cooperatives ensuring the fisherwomen cooperative are provided with long term leases on government owned ponds and regular access to these ponds. The NGO provided the cooperative members with support services in the areas of technology, management and start up capital.


Key Results: These activities resulted in increasing the productivity of fisheries to 400 to 500 kg per acre with an increase in income by US$256, more women are involved in fisheries and are directly interacting with fishery departments of the Government and increase in the number of public ponds being leased by fisherwomen cooperatives. The program has created 13 block level fisherwomen cooperatives covering 4100 fisherwomen families with 150 ponds taken on lease in the Madhubani districts in Bihar.


Microfinance for the Poorest Center for Promoting Sustainable Livelihood


Formation of self help groups were promoted by many organizations with the objective of making them credit worthy clients of microfinance service providers in the rural areas. However, many SHG’s have failed to become credit worthy. To address these problems, the Center for Promoting Sustainable Livelihood organized SHGs formation based on needs homogeneity, creating systems and arrangements to facilitate the participation of poor households in the micro-finance activities. Innovative products such as small consumption loans were deigned to bring them out of poverty.


Key Results: This has resulted in the gradual shift from consumption loans to asset creation in poor households, enabled the community members to decide independently in the use of the loan proceeds, increase in land taken on lease and ownership in share livestock, growth in income levels among the rural poor and reduction in obliged exploitative labor of the poor.




Over the life of the project, Jeevika expects to achievethe following outcomes:

  • 2.9 million people organized into 48,000 self-help groups, 4000 village organizations, 42 block level federations.
  • Cumulative savings of Rs 50 Crores (US$11 million).
  • More than US$50 million in turnover from community-managed enterprises.

Last updated: 2008-07-22

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Bihar Jeevika Overview