Building Member Based Organisations

Understanding the most-prevalent types of Member Based Organisations (MBOs) that either work for the vulnerable communities or for rights of informal and formal labour.

Member based organisations (MBOs) are envisioned as member-owned, democratically run, member-governed and self-sustaining organisations. MBOs such as the cooperatives have made India one of the largest milk and sugar producing countries. Informal MBOs such as the Self Help groups (SHG) have played an important role in empowering poor and marginalized women both economically and politically. In the labour movement, labour unions played a crucial role in bringing in the legislation for protection of labour. In India, MBOs have played an important role in both in the economy and political system of the country. Many government programmes form member-based organisations as a strategy to organize community for social change and poverty alleviation. MBOs also help their members and communities to engage with the state and market. India has seen a proliferation of various kinds of MBOs such as producer groups, savings and credit associations, cooperatives, unions and other collectives in the last three decades.

The growth of MBOs is often facilitated by Social Sector Organisation (SSOs) working
independently or with the State. Social sector organisations grapple to create viable and
self-sustaining MBOs that become collectives truly representing the needs, aspirations
and concerns of the communities they were intended to represent. Unfortunately, it has
become a challenge for MBOs to function independently without the continued support
of the initiating SSOs or the Government. Further, the pace of evolution at which certain forms of MBOs are promoted by external agencies leads to inefficient and dysfunctional MBOs. During the last two decades, the effects of globalization has posed a huge challenge to the MBOs. The declining influence of MBOs in policy space will have far greater impact on democratic functioning of MBOs and on deepening democracy in the country as these organisations play an important role in training community members on citizenship and democracy.

The course will cover three most-prevalent types of MBOs viz., groups based on self-help
and mutual assistance (such as SHGs, producer groups etc), cooperatives and unions that
either work for the vulnerable communities or for rights of informal and formal labour.
Hence the course will not cover MBOs such as Resident Welfare Associations or religion
based groups. Through case studies and practitioner-led lectures the course will help
students identify appropriate community mobilization strategies used by SSOs and will
familiarise them with the process of building these organisations including their
statutory and legal requirements. It will enable students to be good reflective
practitioners and to be mindful of challenges (external constraints, internal dynamics
and resources) in establishing and nurturing MBOs on their path to organisational