Economic Development and Poverty Alleviation

The prime goal of IIRD is to improve the quality of life of the rural people by alleviating poverty through the instrument of self employment and wage employment programs.

Reliance on uncertain survival mechanisms, informal sources of income and dependency on charity and government interventions prevent the rural masses from gaining access to those rights and opportunities which should lie within their reach, but in fact are still only enjoyed by one section of society. However, IIRD understands that achieving economic development goes beyond the pursuit of material gains; it means achieving the necessary means to be productive, independent and self-sustainable in the long term.  The prime goal of IIRD is to improve the quality of life of the rural people by alleviating poverty through the instrument of self employment and wage employment programs.

In the course of this one decade of work, Economic Development has become IIRD’s major core competency. Along with social and environmental development, economic development of the rural communities has been pursued by most of our main projects. We seek to create and support self-employment opportunities and encourage business activities by building capacity, lowering risks, identifying and enhancing opportunities, developing partnerships and facilitating market integration for farmers and villagers in our target areas. Thus, our interventions in the last years, ranged from raising awareness activities, technical and skill development training camps, identification of entrepreneurs and potential business areas, physical verification for credit granting, banking practices training to exposure visits and fair participation, technological guidance, marketing support and cluster development programs. 

The Economic Development projects have been streamed in the four following areas of intervention: Micro Enterprise Development, Micro Finance, Poverty Alleviation and Rural Technology Development.


  • To deal with poverty as complex social, political, cultural, environmental and economic problem
  • To encourage and to provide the means to farmers, artisans, young, enterprise holders and women to start up or uplift their own business activities
  • To provide rural population with credit facilities, banking access and micro insurance as a way of overcoming poverty and economic instability
  • To provide and develop suitable modern technologies to farmers and entrepreneurs in order to ameliorate the production and explore business opportunities

The Program at a Glance


Area and Time

Supporting Agency

No of lives affected (approx)

Cluster Development in Jaipur Block Printing, Kota Doria and Chanderi Weaving

Jaipur, Kota, Chanderi, 1998- 2004, 2006

United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and SIDBI

2500 families

District Poverty Initiative Project (DPIP)

Jhalawar and Baran districts, 2000- 2008

World Bank and Government of Rajasthan

316 villages (14481 families)

Rural Industries Program (RIP)

Jhalawar, Baran, Bundi, Kutch (Gujarat), 2002 till date

SIDBI and other bank linkages for loan facilitation

1200 families

Self Help Group Formation and Bank Linkages

Jhalawar district and Tonk districts 2002- 2008


2500 in 485 SHGs

Rural Insurance

Jhalawar, Baran & Tonk, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, 2003- date

TATA-AIG, Max-Vijay Insurance, ICICI Bank, Yes Bank


Rural Technology Center (RTC)

Jhalawar, 2004

Zila Parishad Jhalawar


Mobilizing for Voluntary Resettlement Plan under the Bisalpur Jaipur Water Supply Project

Tonk, 2006

Asian Development Bank (ADB)


Gram Shakti: Integrated Development through Village Planning

Toda Raisingh Block, 2006



Entrepreneurship and Self Employment Programs

All areas of operations, 2006 till date



Microfinance and Micro Enterprise 

All operational districts in Rajasthan, 2007



Mitigating Poverty in Western Rajasthan Sanchore, Dist. Jalore, 2010 IFAD, Government of Rajasthan 6000


Cluster Development in Jaipur Block Printing, Kota Doria and Chanderi Weaving

Year: 1998- 2004, 2006
Place: Jaipur, Kota, Chanderi
Partner Agency: United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and SIDBI

Develop handloom clusters in Sanganer, Bagru, Kota and Chanderi which have been identified as typical handicrafts clusters with declining performance nevertheless their abundant potential.

It was observed that these units were facing unhealthy competition from screen printers, lack of infrastructure as compared to the rising demand and reduced utilization of the total production capacity in 65%. It was identified that organizing these communities by setting a common goal and vision for cluster development, would finally empower it to have its production valued and marketed and its living standards improved. 

Key activities:

  • Trust building between the cluster members
  • Vision building of firms and entrepreneurs
  • Design development and technical up gradation
  • Improvement of working conditions
  • Infrastructure development
  • Financial linkages and credit programs
  • Market orientation program
  • Organization of and participation in fairs and exhibitions
  • Networking with support institutions and relevant agencies and associations

The clusters actors were provided with forums of discussion and training sessions on marketing, business development, technical (machinery and tools) development and information technology, product development and social security. Design development and technical up gradation were then stimulated, along with infrastructure and working conditions improvement. For this, parts of the printing process were mechanized and Design Development Programmes were organized for the printers to create new and diverse printing designs that met the national and international market demands. Simultaneously, associations and self-help groups were created or modified in order to patronize the artisans and exporters and to enable financial linkage and access to credit programmes.

The overall exposure to a wide range of activities and partners that the Cluster Development Program provided to the IIRD enabled its team to acquire expertise in this field and encouraged the expansion of the initiative to other similar clusters.

In Bagru and Sanganer, 7 SHGs comprising 74 members were active and five associations were formed at the end of the program. Through IIRD’s intervention, six out of seven SHGs were linked with banks, and 56 members were granted with loans having total worth of Rs 14.20 lacks. The introduction of the MCGFS – better explained above – was another credit intervention that enabled SHG and association to obtain credit and loan in a total amount of Rs 29,25. The associations were also linked with various institutions and agencies like NABARD, SEWA ACASH, DC (H), Udhyogini, RCCI that supported their participation in 28 national exclusive fairs and 9 international fairs. Cumulatively, about 2500 families were impacted across the 4 clusters.

District Poverty Initiative Project (DPIP)

Year: 2000- 2008
Place: Jhalawar and Baran districts
Partner Agency: World Bank and Government of Rajasthan

To improve the living standards of below poverty line families (BPL) by building their capacities empowering them and helping them to organize themselves in order to gain access to infrastructure, services and resources that address their most pressing social and economic needs.

The DPIP is a World Bank framework designed to alleviate poverty in the most deprived areas of India, which is being implemented in the states of Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh by several NGOs and local government agencies.

Having previously been involved in the World Bank supported District Poverty Initiatives Project (DPIP) in 1996 through the conduction of a social assessment; in 2000 IIRD’s team was entrusted to be an implementing agency in another 104 villages in Jhalawar.

In the course of time, IIRD’s involvement in the project expanded to another 139 villages in Jhalawar and 73 villages in Baran district. Today we are present in 316 villages– representing nearly 70.000 below poverty line families - in which the DPIP is being implemented.  
The DPIP project is implemented through the formation of Common Interest Groups (CIGs) of 5-15 members each. Village Development Associations (VDAs) are formed to support and guide the newly formed community organizations at the village level.

Once the CIG and NGO members decide upon a viable sub-project jointly, the sub-project is prepared in collaboration with a panel of experts appointed by the implementing agency. CIGs contribute 10% of the cost of all sub-projects in cash, materials or labor. This creates a sense of ownership and contributes to the sustainability of the CIG - the final and most important stage of project. CIG sub-projects are demand-driven and therefore vary in nature. However, all sub-projects can be categorized into four broad categories: (1) Community Infrastructure, (2) Land Based (3) Micro Enterprise Development and (4) Animal Husbandry. The construction of collective infrastructure like check dams, hand pumps, schoolrooms, land based facilities like wells and ponds and the development of entrepreneurial initiatives in candle making, spice mills, animal farming and others, are the final outcomes of the community empowerment achieved by the DPIP approach.

DPIP has proved to be a very challenging and enriching experience, improving the Institute’s team competencies and its motivation to overcome the abysmal conditions in which millions of people live not too far from our eyes. It has enhanced its own capabilities to deal with poverty as a problem, which includes social, economic, political, cultural and environmental aspects, which need to be addressed in a co-operative effort between government, NGOs, international institutions, the private sector and others stakeholders as well as the poverty-stricken individuals themselves.

In all, 316 villages (14481 families) have benefitted out of the program.

Indicators of DPIP


 Approx. sum of investment

Rs 6 crores

No. of families that got incremental increase in their income

7000 families

Productivity increase in terms of agriculture and industrial production


Retention of water (%)


Activities to generate self-employment opportunities


Rural Industries Program (RIP)

Year: 2002 till date
Place: Jhalawar, Baran, Bundi, Kutch (Gujarat)
Partner Agency: SIDBI and other bank linkages for loan facilitation

To create a comprehensive initiative to unleash this potential and promote sustainable economic development

Since 2000, SIBDI has supported Rural Industries Program (RIP) active since 1994 that aim to promote small enterprise in rural areas of India, which is at present being implemented in 62 districts in 24 states. The program empowers women, youth, rural artisans and micro enterprise holders to use the market to their advantage both in agricultural and non-agricultural sector.

In the first step, awareness is achieved mainly through awareness camps. Interested individuals register, stating their business idea. If they have no concrete business in mind, IIRD provides a list of portfolios and helps them to decide on a venture based on their experience, talents, interests and endowment with assets. Once the choice has been made, the individual receives guidance, training and practical help in setting up the unit.

In particular, IIRD assists the individuals in acquiring bank loans, preparing documents and making contacts with suppliers and buyers. The statements made in the application form are physically verified and credentials are checked. When the business concept has been deemed feasible and a loan has been granted, necessary equipment is bought with the help of IIRD. Monthly follow-up and monitoring of the regular repayments of the loan are performed by IIRD and form part of the concept. IIRD also offers consultancy services for entrepreneurs who wish to expand their business.

The RIP in Jhalawar, was initially planned to last only three years, but due to its fruitful achievements, has been extended twice and is now planned to last until 2008. Besides inspiring the beneficiaries to become entrepreneurs, RIP has been a strong motivator for IIRD’s team to keep improving its competencies. The positive outcomes achieved until now have also been rewarded with our partners’ recognition of the professional work that has been developed. As a consequence, the SIDBI, in 2003 awarded IIRD with the Best Enterprise Development Service Provider Prize for its work on the RIP in Jhalawar.

Extending its involvement in the RIP, the IIRD team has also been entrusted with the implementation of the project in Bhuj (Gujarat) during the year of 2001, in Baran, from 2002 to 2007, and in Bundi district from 2005 to 2008. The beneficiaries set up their own businesses like Readymade Garments, Garments Manufacturing, Tailoring, Masala Udyog, Flour Mill, Pattal Dona Making, Sweet Shops, Dairy products, Soap Making, Agarbatti Making, Candle Production, Fabrication Work, Compressor and Puncher Repair and Welding, Furniture, Photocopier, Computer Services and Hardware, Electrical Repair Shop and Brick Making.

More than 1800 families have benefitted out of RIP, and the program still continues with great success

Indicators of RIP since 1997





Potential entrepreneurs identified





Units promoted





Employment generated





Bank loan catalysed (in Lakhs)





Owner’s contribution





Total investment catalyzed, Rs. Lakh






Average increase in income of entrepreneurs, %





All operational districts in Rajasthan, 2007 SIDBI 45000

Microfinance,  Self Help Group Formation and Bank Linkages

Year: 2002 till date
Place: All areas of operations                                                                   
Partner Agency: NABARD, SIDBI

IIRD’s forth approach towards mobilizing funds and credits for entrepreneurship activities are the formation of Self Help Groups. These are groups of poor people – often women – that organize themselves to achieve economic upliftment and self-sustenance. During the initial period, economic stability is promoted through the generation of a common fund that should be collectively managed and used according to priorities, which have been commonly agreed upon. Borrowing, saving and paying back habits are thus acquired by each one of the beneficiaries, enabling the group to take a step further towards the formal banking sector and its possibilities. Opening an account and getting a loan are the next phases of group development and if interest is shown, counseling and training on income generation activities are given to further encourage entrepreneurial initiatives. 

The promotion of SHG is an inherent part of many of our programs, and for the past years we have facilitated them in the slums of Jaipur, rural areas of Alwar and Jhalawar, other parts of Rajasthan and some districts of Gujarat

Besides facilitating access to financial services and offering a framework for building technical and entrepreneurial skills, SHGs help to reduce dependency on expensive moneylenders, create employment and increase productivity. But most of all, the SHGs allow for the true economic empowerment of the huge part of the population which daily suffers the worst type of marginalization, namely women. Through SHG women and girls from the most underprivileged areas of India have the opportunity to broaden their life perspective, gain knowledge and skills, acquiring self-confidence and consequently being able to improve their social and economic condition. 

Since 2007, ARTH Micro Finance, an associate of IIRD, has been steadily growing in terms of variety of assignments as well as diversity of stakeholders. This has also meant increased, both qualitative and quantitative, results. With staff strength of about 70 professionals across 14 branches in Rajasthan, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, ARTH has touched more than 45000 lives in 2596 groups, extended loans to 19873 women in 6 districts across 3 states of India, in the current year.

In the process of delivering cost effective and convenient financial solutions and related technological inputs, ARTH has not only helped its family members to achieve financial independence, but greater decision making abilities as well. A large number of entrepreneurship stories are only the icing on the cake.

ARTH recognizes that the working poor can act in an entrepreneurial manner and are, in principle, creditworthy. For these micro-borrowers, microcredit is often the only alternative to paying excessive interest rates charged by unofficial moneylenders. They use financial services not only for business investment in their micro-enterprises but also to invest in health and education, to manage household emergencies, and to meet the wide variety of other cash needs that they encounter. Access to financial services enables poor people to increase their household incomes, build assets, and reduce their vulnerability to the crises that are so much a part of their daily lives.

Financial services thus reduce poverty and its effects in multiple concrete ways. And the beauty of it all is, as the programs approach financial sustainability, they have reached far beyond the limits of scarce donor resources.

45000 families across 2596 groups have been impacted

Rural Insurance

Year: 2003 till date
Place: Jhalawar, Baran & Tonk, Jaipur, Ahmedabad
Partners: TATA-AIG, Max-Vijay Insurance, ICICI Bank, Yes Bank 

Impact and Figures:
As part of the Micro finance strategy, recently at the beginning of 2005 the IIRD became partner of TATA AIG Insurance proving the rural population of Jhalawar and Baran with life insurance policies. Its performance has been outstanding (more than 5600 policies sold) and in April 2005 the Institute was awarded as the Top Business Associate in India.

More than 83000 families have been insured under the sum of 83 crores.

Rural Technology Center (RTC)

Year: 2004 till date
Place: Jhalawar
Partner: Zilla Parishad Jhalawar

Provide consultancy, training and information unit that advises and supports rural beneficiaries-cum-entrepreneurs in their initial or expansive entry into the business realm.

The RTC project is a very ambitious initiative that aims to create a reference center for practicing and developing rural technologies, in the capacity of:

  • Consultancy, Training, and Information Unit that advices and supports rural beneficiaries-cum-entrepreneurs in their initial or expansive entry into the business realm;
  • Incubator Unit for on site and off site development of products, techniques, practices, and technologies, with added support from expert facilitators in a timely holistic and adaptive manner for taking on new information with added support from expert facilitators in a timely holistic and adaptive manner;
  • Research and Development Park on viable suitable solutions for life style improvement;
  • Credit Unit that would both provide in-house loans, advice and consultation to aspiring viable rural business units while also linking rural units with external units.
  • Information Point for imparting other related development information including, health, sanitation, etc to rural beneficiaries while also serving as a information collecting point. On campus bulletin boards, outreach team field visits and overall interaction between informed staff and beneficiaries will lead to greater collaborative information sharing

Interested appropriate populations enroll in rural courses ranging from Animal Husbandry Management to Non Farming Skills Training to Water Shed Construction as well as several other related rural skills. Modular courses range from 2 days to over two weeks and are presented in a holistic “hands-on” approach through onsite demonstrations, trails and follow-up field projects and programs. Upon graduation from courses and programs, rural beneficiaries are matched among themselves for peer support, mentorship and encouragement. Course members become active in their own development, with suitable skills learned at the RTC augmenting income generating possibilities and other associated positive externalities. IIRD believes the core factors limiting the potential of rural populations include poor skills sets and external access to capital. The RTC fills both gaps, providing suitable holistic educational solutions while also matching viable entrepreneurs with financial capital.

More than 9000 individuals and their families have been impacted.

Mobilizing for Voluntary Resettlement Plan under the Bisalpur Jaipur Water Supply Project

Year: 2006
Place: Tonk
Partners: Asian Development Bank (ADB)

IIRD implemented the plan of resettlement of the affected families of poor people under the following objectives:

  • Mobilization and motivation to APs for the sake of formation of based organization
  • Planning and implementation of income generating activities
  • Development of information campaign and community participation.
  • Strengthening local institution and self reliance community
  • Difficult based reach delivery service to communities of self reliance, in efficient manner
  • Follow up of implication R.P and preparation of exit policies.

Under the Asian Development Bank (ADB) Supported Bisalpur – Jaipur Water Supply Project the Rajasthan Urban Development  Infrastructure Development (RUIDP) has been worked out for comprehensive  resettlement plan, that has been designed to assist the affected families of rural area who were involved  in land acquisition through Bisalpur – Jaipur Water supply project, and it was fairly planned to their economic well being to the standard that was  fair and equal to be better than that in which they were employed before acquisition conferred.
In this context, it took up the following activities:

  • Establishment of office and placement of manpower 
  • Revalidation of identified APs
  • Baseline of 4 villages of Todaraisingh
  • Social, economic and infrastructural benchmark
  • Preparation and issuing of photo ID cards – 181 out of 192 prepared  – 136 cards disbursed
  • Micro Planning of 4 villages  
  • An orientation was conducted to reveal the APs about resettlement policies so that no dissatisfaction may be apparent
  • Conducting the survey to gather socio economic cultural information about the deprived and unprivileged affected families
  • Ascertain the same with the sarpanch and local authorities
  • Making them aware about the prevalent conditions, and issues pertaining to health and hygience
  • Most importantly, develop and implementing schemes for income generation. Youth were trained for various skill development activities so that they may be self employed in Electrical Repair and Electric Wiring, Motor Winding and Repair, Puncture Repair, Auto Repairing and Two Wheeler Repairing. In agriculture, the use of vermi-compost was introduced. For women empowerment, SHG formation and trainings for Jewelry Making, Soft Toy Making, Fruit Preservation, and Pickle Making were conducted.
  • Carrying Immunization programs for children and other needy groups. Anemic pregnant women were given iron and vitamin tablets, and ORS liquid was distributed among those suffering from diarrhea
  • Inculcate optimized use of natural resources and human potential, among the participants, in a bid to develop community based culture. All SHGs were linked with Banks for loaning to increase their trades.

In relation to the project, Indian Institute for Rural Development (IIRD) also activated a complementary plan to be focused on helping in development livelihood program to enhance the income generating level of affected persons.

The plan had been implemented by the IIRD initially to engage the service of the affected people, IIRD worked with the state of Rajasthan, District Tonk and Block Toda Raisingh were affected by land acquisition by Government for the Bisalpur Jaipur Water Supply project. 

5000 people benefited and rehabilitated under the program

Gram Shakti: Integrated Development through Village Planning

Year: 2006
Place: Toda Raisingh Block, Tonk
Partner Agency: UNICEF

Empower communities and service providers for sustainable child centered programming for overall improvement in quality of life of the communities in general and children in particular.

With the strong belief that people’s participation in development programs is very critical and that local communities can also suggest solutions and look for opportunities to implement sustainable solutions, IIRD, in association with UNICEF, undertook Integrated Development of Tonk district in Rajasthan through village planning with the involvement of the local community. Following a two pronged approach of mobilization and reinforcement, IIRD carried out the activities in the following ways:
Ensured staff and facilitators are fully trained
Carried out the five day village planning exercise in villages of assigned block with the support of nodal agency using the micro planning tools, as agreed with UNICEF. Changes introduced after consultations and agreement with nodal agency and UNICEF
Trained and built  capacity of the volunteers to follow up on the village action plan as well as help community regularly meet and take up new activities as they deem fit
Ensured participation of government functionaries during the village planning  exercise and  thereafter in the activities of the village plan; facilitated the building up to a strong partnership between government functionaries and the communities for effective delivery of various services

Figures: More than 1800 families benefited from the program

Sr. No.

Name of Activity

No. of activity organized

Area covered

No. of participants





VPF training


All Blocks





Training of youth volunteers


9 GP





Training of service providers


16 GP





Training of PRIs


12 GP





Training of Panchayat Support Group


94 Villages





Village planning


136 Villages





VPF Refresher  Meeting







VYV Refresher meeting







Block workshop


All block




Entrepreneurship and Self Employment Programs

Year: 2006 till date
Place: All areas of operations,

IIRD has conducted many livelihood generation programs to make people self-reliant as well as self–dependent, through a touch of technical & professional aptitude, across 7 districts of Rajasthan. In association with agencies such as NABARD, SIDBI, RMOL, EMI, RUIDP, DST, IIRD has trained people in the following:

  • Crafts based activities- Kota Doria and Chanderi Weaving, Bagru Block Print, Tie and Dye, Embroidery, Ari-Tari, Tailoring, Stone Carving and others
  • Horticulture based activities, including Food Processing, Organic Orange Processing and Grading, Organic Coriander Products, Vermi Compost, Planting Medicinal Plants and others
  •  Machinery oriented training, including Electrical Repair and Wiring, Diesel Engine Repair, Two Wheeler Repair  and others
  • Small Scale Industries Training including Candle Making, Incense Stick Making, Sweets Box Making and others.

More than 15000 individuals have impacted from the program.

Mitigating Poverty in Western Rajasthan

Year: 2010
Place: Sanchore, Dist. Jalore
Partner Agency: IFAD, Government of Rajasthan

Focus its efforts in a strategic manner and conduct activities by the qualified, experienced and devoted personnel to bring the expected output.
Making village community aware about the concept and philosophy of the MPOWER and build up an institutional base for further action

In the poverty struck 50 villages of Sanchore, IIRD was commissioned by IFAD and Government of Rajasthan, towards the poverty reduction initiative. In a bid to reduce poverty through the development of community institutions and support to various livelihoods activities and setting up of services delivery systems initially, its measures include achieving effective targeting to ensure that the empowerment process is inclusive of the poorest.
IIRD has focused on the three major components: (i) Strengthening of Grassroots Institutions; (ii) Livelihoods Support; and (iii) Project Management, in keeping with the Mpower objectives.

It worked towards creating ownership through effective participation and awareness creation, diversifying risks and enhancing productivity, ensuring good governance, mainstreaming gender, conducting performance monitoring and public recognition of achievements by the village communities, through various awareness camp on health & hygiene, literacy, environment, drinking water, adoption of improved agricultural practices, sources of technical information, animal care, employment opportunities, self help group formation, along with a village network of VDA and VFs.

6000 families have been lifted out of poverty.

Success Stories:

Rajesh Kumar had studied upto HSC level, but could not land with a job of any kind. Having tried hands at so many things, he had almost given up on life. With IIRD, things took a U Turn. With some financial assistance from his mother and loans grant, he started an Ice Cream thela. Hard work has paid off and he now has a chain of 5 such thelas.
"I am glad to know IIRD, because they are not just a microfinance provider, but a part of the family believing in the values of human connection. All the six of us are on the road to prosperity."
- Rajesh Kumar, Ice Cream Vendor, Jaipur

Shyam Singh’s village was the one affected by Bisalpur Dam Project. In the process of rehabilitation, he was very concerned with his children’s education. With the help of IIRD’s efforts, he managed not only to begin his life through his kirana shop, he was able to send his children to school under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan.
IIRD helped me raise my children and myself to come back on our feet. I don’t know what would have I done without them.

-Shyam Singh, Kirana Shop Owner, Jhirana