The Self-Employed Women's Association (SEWA)is a women's trade union registered at Ahmedabad in India in 1972. One of the services it operates is a cooperative bank which was started in 1974 with an initial membership of 4,000 (11,000 in 1987-88). The main features of SEWA Bank are: (1) membership is open only to poor women on payment of Rs. 10 (ca. US 0.25) as share capital; (2) help women become financially independent and start their own economic activity; (3) cut red-tape/procedures to help illiterate women get small loans without difficulty (in view of the fact that many women could not even sign their names, photographs were used for identification). The objectives of the Bank are: (1) to provide facilities for savings and fixed deposits accounts, thus inculcating thrift in women managing their savings and ensuring safe custody of cash; (2) to provide credit to further the productive, economic and income generating activities of the poor and self-employed; (3) to extend technical and management assistance in production, storage, processing, designing and sale of goods and services; (4) to provide facilities to redeem jewellery from pawn brokers and money lenders; (5) to adopt procedures and designs schemes suitable for self-employed women, like collecting daily savings from their place of business or home, or providing savings boxes and giving training in banking procedures. SEWA Bank also provides legal and productivity training, education, maternity, protection, social security and creche facilities.
An example of a SEWA intervention strategy is when a women has hired equipment and is paying regular rent for its use. SEWA Bank provides loans for buying the equipment. The results are an increase in real income because of saving in rent, the asset is created in the name of women, and a portion of increased real income being saved in SEWA Bank's personal saving account to eventually offset the loan.