Microfinance institutions comprising self-help groups (SHGs) are increasingly recognised as promising avenues for expanding health and social services to vulnerable populations.1–3In India, the concept of women’s SHGs has evolved over the past three decades. The basic SHG structure remains defined as informal groups of 10–20 women from similar socio-economic backgrounds living in close prox-imity.4 During the 1980s, the objectives were to engage women in collective savings activ-ities and to provide access to credit. By the early 1990s, the official SHG and bank linkage programme in India were led by the National Agricultural Bank for Rural Development and focused on loans for livelihood activi-ties. To improve scalability, by early 2000s, the SHG model grew into a key government programme providing financial access to the poor and addressing issues of social justice to improve the welfare of its members.

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