74,61,946 Self Help Groups (SHGs) were in existence as on March 31, 2011. NABARD has mentioned that about 80% of the SHGs are Women SHGs. In order to encourage backward linkage of the matured SHGs, NABARD conducts a Micro Enterprise Development Program (MEDP) which focuses on skill up gradation, development of livelihoods and venturing into micro enterprises by members of matured SHGs. During the year 2011-12, 1,914 MEDPs were conducted for 56,292 members on various location-specific farm, non-farm and service activities. For forward linkage NABARD extends grant assistance for setting up of marketing outlets, known as ‘Rural Mart’ at district and sub-district level by Producers Groups, SHGs and their federations, activity groups, farmers’ club etc. for marketing farm and non-farm products including products of rural SHGS/rural artisans/handicrafts sector. The support is intended to cover the risks involved in the initial stages of rural retail marketing. 465 rural marts with a grant support of Rs. 490.34 lakh were sanctioned cumulatively as on 31st March 2012.
This was stated by the Minister of State for Finance, Shri Namo Narain Meena in written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha