Research and Advocacy have been intertwined in the APMAS organizational structure since inception. Research serves as a tool to identify issues for advocacy. The research team primarily conducts in-depth research studies on various aspects of the self-help movement. The results of the studies shape the work of APMAS in the field, particularly in the areas of Quality Enhancement and Livelihood Promotion. The research findings are widely disseminated to all stakeholders - government agencies, NGOs, bankers, researchers, academicians, etc. Main instruments of dissemination are: publications, website, and newsletter - Mahila Sadhikarata in Telugu (the AP state language). APMAS hosts policy dialogue and also actively participates in such dialogue organized by other institutions at the national and state level.
The research wing of the Research and Advocacy unit has to date conducted about 60 studies on such topics as: the quality of federations and their impact, SHGs, SHG-bank linkages, defaulting SHGs, and government interventions like the Community Investment Fund and the Rice Credit Line for Food Security. Recently, in the context of a publicly discussed MFI Crisis , APMAS has carried out a study of MFI lending practices and participated in a policy meeting with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). The unit's main focus is short-term action research on topics, which are relevant to policymakers and implementing agencies. The unit welcomes interns from national and international institutions, involves them in SHG related work and guides their work.
The Advocacy wing of Research and Advocacy Unit works in several ways - workshops, cultural programs, regular discussions and personal contacts with policy and decision makers. So far, the focus has been on practices and tools to be applied at the field level. The wing disseminates the results of field experience and research through a broad range of media including: printed research studies, manuals and handbooks; tool-kits; videos and e-learning in English and Telugu. Now the unit realized that the Advocacy has to be two ways both bottom up and top down , i.e. influencing the secondary stakeholders particularly the policy makers for obtaining conducive environment for the healthy development of SHG movement through field learnings and sensitizing the field level practitioners especially the primary stakeholders for effective implementation of policy guidelines and self regulations. The unit is gearing up itself for policy advocacy.
Advocacy: Influencing Policy
APMAS organised, chaired, addressed and participated in many conferences, conclaves, meetings and workshops with the objective of influencing government policies to be more pro-poor, transparent, practical and realistic. APMAS MD & CEO Mr. CS Reddy represented in a number of such events all over India and a few other countries as well. Conclave on Financial Inclusion at Shillong; Round Table conference on State of the Sector Report 2012 at UNDP, Delhi; MFI Advisory Group Meeting at Access Dev.Services, Delhi; 5th National Conference on Social Entrepreneurship at XLRI Jamshedpur; and Workshop on Swarna Jayanti Shahari Rozgar Yojana (SJSRY) in Patna are a few such examples.
Besides these exercises, APMAS took a lead role to set right the negative impact of the 97th constitutional amendment of Indian Government on cooperatives.