The first Resource Centres emerged in MYRADA around 2002. These were conceived as centres providing free services much like what MYRADA Sector Offices had been doing.
The name “Resource Centres” does not reflect fully the reality that has emerged on the ground in MYRADA’s projects. A “Resource” implies that it has a stock of skills and assets. The first Resource Centres which emerged in MYRADA’s projects fitted this limited description. The popular use of the word “Resource Centre” also portrays an image of control/ownership from outside (by an Institution/NGO or Government) and usually backed up by financial support from outside. Those RCs which emerged subsequently do have a stock of skills and assets; but they are not the central distinguishing features of these RCs; there are several others which will be briefly listed here.
In MYRADA’s projects, the RC is managed by a Board comprising representatives of CBOs –mainly SAGs- who govern and are governed by a set of rules and conventions which the CBOs have decided are the most appropriate to run an institution which can achieve their own vision and mission. Since these are community owned and managed, we call them Community Managed Resource Centres (CMRCs) One CMRC in MYRADA covers a specific area and around 120 CBOs – who apply to join the CMRC as members. However, a CBO cannot automatically join as a member just because it happens to exist in the area covered by the CMRC. It has to reach a certain standard of performance and maturity, which is assessed by the CMRC Board.
This assessment is repeated annually. As regards financial support, the CMRCs share MYRADA’s strong commitment to be self-sufficient. Accordingly, the CBOs pay a monthly fee to retain membership and are assessed or rated yearly to ensure that their standards have not declined to a level where they lose RC membership. The CMRCs have a separate office, a separate account and a financial management system; they present their Annual Reports before the General Body. Each CMRC has a Manager who is an experienced staff deputed from MYRADA – who reports to the CMRC Management Committee. The Manager performs an executive function and is supported by several Community Resource persons selected by the CBOs.
The CMRCs provide several services to their members CBOs. There is a certain package of services that all CBOs are eligible for by virtue of their membership fee. This includes updating of books of accounts, audit, support for conflict resolution in the CBOs (if necessary) and training services.
As part of their social agenda the CMRCs also provide services such as health camps, animal health camps, legal awareness programmes, etc.
Many CMRCs also engage in entrepreneurial activities such as providing browsing services, help with accessing aadhar cards, ration card, PAN card, LPG connections and other such liaison services.
A major initiative of CMRCs across projects has been providing vocational/skill training to youth in their area of operation. CMRCs have established collaborations with government departments and industry (under the Corporate Social Responsibility initiative) to provide skill training. Examples of such collaboration include training support from KVSTDC and Godrej & Boyce. Often CMRCs function as vocational training centres. Collaborations have also been established with industry for placement of trained youth. Many trained youth have been placed in industries such as garments.
CMRCs also innovate based on the need of the community. For instance a CMRC in Kolar district is currently engaged in promoting a producers’ company of millet growers. A group of nine millet farmers belonging to member CBOs of the CMRC are being supported to establish a company that aims to add value to their produce/product and find wider markets. The CMRC guides the nascent company through procedures such as registration, documentation, framing of bye-laws etc.