Call for proposals: Qualitative study on self-help groups in India


3ie invites organisations or consortia to submit proposals to conduct one qualitative evaluation on women’s self-help groups (SHGs) in rural India. This qualitative study is expected to inform a 3ie-led impact evaluation that is assessing the National Rural Livelihoods Mission’s (NRLM) impact on households and women’s socio-economic and human development outcomes.

To know more about 3ie’s work with NRLM, visit the programme page.



A key objective of NRLM is to build strong, self-managed, women’s institutions, including SHGs and their federations. However, the growth and expansion of the programme has not been without challenges. Preliminary data from a survey conducted during 3ie’s impact evaluation has revealed that several SHGs have closed down after a few years of operation. The role of SHG federations has also varied across states.

The proposed qualitative study will be conducted in the states of Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand, which are among the nine states included in the ongoing impact evaluation.

3ie will fund one qualitative study to answer two questions:

  1. What factors are responsible for SHGs that are not sustained?
  2. At the institutional level, what role do SHG federations, i.e. village organisations and cluster level federations, play in determining SHG quality, functioning and sustainability?

For more information about this call, please read the detailed Request for proposals.

All key documents required for the application, including the proposal form, are available on this page.

The deadline for submitting proposals was 15 July 2019. The deadline for sending queries related to this request for proposals was 2 July 2019. 

Download Q&A document

Please direct any additional questions related to this RFP to with ‘NRLM qualitative proposal query’ in the subject line.

  • 3ie will provide funding of up to USD 90,000 for one evaluation, which will be completed within three months.
  • Only legally registered organisations and consortia of registered organisations, not individuals, may apply.
  • The research team should include at least one researcher who is an Indian resident. The national researcher must be engaged in substantive tasks, including study design, data analysis, report writing, ongoing stakeholder engagement and promoting evidence uptake.
  • For-profit organisations are eligible to apply, and are restricted to the same indirect cost limits as non-profit organisations. They may not charge a fee.

In December 2015, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation commissioned 3ie to assure the quality of and generate evidence on various aspects of the National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM). As part of this evidence programme, 3ie is conducting impact evaluations, assuring the quality of selected evaluations of livelihood interventions, mapping the available evidence on the effectiveness of group-based livelihoods interventions, and synthesising the evidence generated under this programme.