Self-help groups

Releasing potential: A facilitator’s learning resource for self-help groups (PDF 2.9 MB)

Releasing potential front cover 

This learning resource documents the self-help group (SHG) process as implemented by Tearfund staff and partners in Ethiopia. Its primary function is to provide a learning resource for facilitators in Ethiopia. But given the level of interest in this work because of its impact, it serves as an introduction to the SHG process as a whole for other Tearfund staff and development professionals around the world. 

The process of cultivating, processing and enjoying coffee, a crop of significant economic and cultural importance in Ethiopia, has been used throughout the learning resource as symbolic of the establishment, nurture and harvest of the SHG groups. 

The SHG process, once well established, brings life-changing skills and opportunities for those involved: the very poorest people in society. When mature and confident, SHG groups, with their democratic support systems, provide a challenge to established hierarchies, ultimately with the potential of bringing far-reaching political, social and economic changes. 

‘It is my privilege to work with the Tearfund team and local partner organisations in Ethiopia introducing, developing and replicating self-help groups. Together we have supported hundreds of thousands of the poorest people to transform their lives across Ethiopia and beyond. I never feel more nourished or satisfied than when I am hearing about how these groups have supported people to transform their lives and, together with others, are developing a vision and hope for the future. I hope this resource helps others to experience and share in this privilege.’ 

Keith Etherington, Tearfund Ethiopia