Bottom-up approach: Self-defined Development
The core of the MATI Cooperative programs is unlocking the inert power of the disadvantages of people to solve their problems through awareness-raising and developing their capacity. MATI Cooperative prioritizes the most disadvantaged section of the society, the women, marginalized farmers, persons with disabilities, Dalit people. At the first step, MATI Cooperative organizes the people into small groups of 15-25 peoples. The groups function as interest groups that meet weekly. Within the groups, the people discuss their living conditions, the problems, root causes of the problems, and develop ideas on how to improve their situation. During these meetings, suggestions are discussed and exchanged which later serve as a basis for MATI Cooperative’s project proposals to potential donors or help us to continuously improve existing programs and adapt them to changing circumstances.
MATI Cooperative trains up young local women and men as social workers, so-called “field motivators”. They pass on their knowledge in the areas such as organic agriculture, environment protection, health care & hygiene, water & sanitation, nutrition, family planning, violence against women & domestic violence, child marriage, and child care, quality education, etc. to the groups through the weekly meeting.
The women groups also function as savings groups. By saving together, the group members gain access to loans for income-generating activities such as livestock, a rickshaw, a small business, or much-needed hut repair, a pending operation, or an education loan for their children.
In the groups, the women are informed about all Mati projects, but also about relevant offers from other NGOs, local government agencies, health centres, or training opportunities.
To date there are more than 180 women’s groups, each with 15 – 25 members. Together, there are about 4,500 women who actively work with MATI Cooperative. In the family context this means that about 25,000 people benefit from our work.