There is growing attention to enhance the quality of SHGs and their Federations, and everyone, is insisting on quality of the SHGs. The need to promote quality SHGs and their Federations is slowly gaining momentum in AP. With almost three years' work, APMAS, with various stakeholders like Government of AP, NABARD, Bankers and NGOs, on establishing quality assessment systems for SHGs and SHG Federations, the demand for quality assessment is increasing. To ensure sustainability of these Self Managed Micro Finance Institutions (SMFIs), awareness about the standards and quality assessment process is critical. A large number of bankers, DRDA staff and NGOs are using the Critical Rating Index developed under NABARD's leadership to promote bank linkage and for offering other government programs. The rating is also being used for designing a more targeted capacity building input. NABARD is in the process of finalising the guidelines for SHG Federation linkage with banks. In this context, The SHG Federation Quality Assessment System developed by APMAS, called GRADES is gaining recognition.
Working towards a common acceptance and wide use of quality as well as organizational capacity assessment processes for SMFIs, APMAS has developed a Quality Assessment (QA) system - GRADES in collaboration with Micro Credit Ratings International Limited (M-CRIL), New Delhi. The system, to be revised regularly on a periodic basis, is developed for SHG Federations and is currently being used for the assessment of UNDP/Velugu promoted MMSs (Mandal Mahila Samakhyas) in the state of Andhra Pradesh, India. To further internal quality consciousness, APMAS is also developing a self-assessment tool for SHG Federations. APMAS was involved in the development of NABARD's Critical Rating Index, which is being used to rate SHGs.
A state-level QA team based in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh does assessment where needed in the state and has assessed MACS in several districts. The assessment parameters are worked out in consonance with the primary members and the promoters, after conducting a series of workshops - district and state level. The assessment is to be used by Federation Executive Committee, its Managers and promoters like NGOs, DRDA, Velugu, Banks and other financial institutions. APMAS also plans to identify, train and develop individual affiliates, for taking the Quality Assessment process closer to the field.