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                                                            Society for Assistance to Fisherwomen (SAF)

Society for Assistance to Fisherwomen (SAF) is an agency created under Department of Fisheries, Government of Kerala which was registered under Travancore- Cochin Literary and Charitable Societies Act on 1st June 2005 with the mandate to work for the overall development of fisherwomen in the state. The agency aims at the upliftment of socio- economic status of fisherwomen thereby pave way for the local level development. In order to uplift the fisherwomen into the main stream, SAF has initiated and developed the entrepreneurial competency among fisherwomen and established a number of microenterprises to tap the local resources.  The goal was achieved by creating small activity-based groups of fisherwomen and extended financial, technological and managerial support to set up micro enterprises. Since 2010, SAF has been implementing Theeramythri Project which facilitates the formation, development and sustainability of microenterprises. The Theeramythri programme is the flagship programme of SAF that encourages, facilitates and handholds fisherwomen to engage in gainful alternate self-employment for their economic and social emancipation. Along with this SAF has initiated many other programmes for the socio-economic betterment of Fisherwomen


The overarching objectives of SAF are

  • To ensure sustainability support to the micro enterprise units established under the TEAP, TRP, PMNRF projects.
  • To establish micro enterprise units for fisherwomen across Kerala and thereby ensuring sustainable livelihood and income for them. Grant assistance will be given to these beneficiaries for forming in to activity groups of 2 to 5 members.
  • To strengthen the activities of Theeramythri management Council and thereby improve the performance of micro enterprises.
  • To provide assistance to the fisherwomen for enterprising the skill of expertise, financial assistance, business development, formulation of marketing strategies, performance improvement programmes etc
  • To initiate, encourage and strengthen social organizations among fisherwomen in coastal areas and to strengthen and co-ordinate livelihood programmes.
  • To provide advanced skill trainings to the beneficiaries to ensure the sustainable development of micro enterprises and also to find an alternative livelihood for them.
  • To strengthen the organized livelihood activities of fisherwomen groups and to help them to find a direct market with an assured income.
  • To strengthen and link the socially based groups under Grama Panchayat, Municipalities and Corporation and there by developing a product marketing chain for these microenterprises.
  • To organize activities under the leadership of women for health, education and developmental programmes in fisheries sector.
  • To formulate and utilization of a multi-disciplinary team, including experienced officials, for the implementation of project for integrated development of fisherwomen in all areas.



Major Projects of SAF

  • Theeramythri Project –Development of Microenterprises
  • JLG Project for ensuring livelihood security of fisherwomen in Kerala
  • Theeramythri Seafood Restaurant Project
  • Ashtamudi Phase II Project – Apparel Consortium
  • Theeramaveli Project
  • Hygienic refrigerated mobile fish vending kiosks
  • Gender Equality and Women Empowerment Policy


Sustainability Support

  • Working Capital Revolving Fund
  • Technology Improvement
  • Capacity Building Training Programmes
  • Branding and Marketing support
  • Shift to Appropriate Business
  • Solidarity Fund to revive pandemic affected units
  • Graduating activity groups to business groups


MAJOR INITIATIVES, programmes and supporting systems OF SAF

  • Theeramythri Managemnt Councils (TMC)
  • Apex and Category Federations
  • Online Marketing & Sales
  • Mental Wellness Clinics
  • Long term loan through Kerala Bank
  • KCC - Kissan Credit Card for fish vendors
  • Melas And Exhibitions
  • Participation in India International Trade Fair
  • Suchithwa Sagaram Sundara Theeram
  • Anti Drug Awareness Programme
  • Theerasadas
  • Project Clinics
  • Digital Saksham Programme
  • Thozil Theeram
  • E shram Registration
  • Masachanda
  • SAF Reviews, Field Visits & Project Monitoring
  • Activity Report Management Information System (ARMIS)
  • Money Management Software
  • Inter Departmental Convergence





Major Projects of SAF


            The Theeramythri programme is the flagship programme of SAF that encourages, facilitates and handholds fisherwomen to engage in gainful alternate self-employment for their economic and social emancipation. This is an alternative livelihood project for the beneficiary groups by generating income through the setting up of Micro enterprises and thereby ensuring poverty alleviation through diverse livelihood activities among coastal fisherwomen of Kerala. SAF has extended the services to inland fisher communities also. The main objective of this initiative is the social and economic empowerment of fisherwomen by being an entrepreneur. For the new units being formed, will be getting a grant support of 75% of the unit cost.  20 % will be bank loan and remaining 5 % will be beneficiary contribution. The average subsidy for a member is limited to Rs.100000. A group consists of 2-5 members. Currently there are around 63 types of micro enterprises like Tailoring and Garments, beauty parlour, dry fish unit, catering and restaurant, community provision store, seafood kitchen, supermarkets, tuition center, flourmills, bakery, food processing units, umbrella making, medical lab, IT Kiosk etc are established under the project.

Sustainability components

  •  Capacity Building TRAINING

            Necessary trainings will be given to the project beneficiaries prior to the establishment of microenterprises as well as later for their skill up-gradation. All the trainings are prerequisite for the sustainable development of these units and are given free of cost in their physical presence either as residential or non-residential. The capacity building programmes will be conducted as: Opportunity Guidance program, Achievement Motivation, Management Training. The trainings are intended for motivation, capacity building, entrepreneurial competency and skill development of each beneficiary. The skill training programme addresses the specific skill development needs of the activity groups


WCRF is the financial assistance at a minimum amount of Rs.25000 from SAF to the activity groups for the development of business activities without interest. Through WCRF a group will get maximum amount of RS. 100000/- and community provision store, Sea food kitchen& Super markets of Rs. 1,50,000/- as revolving fund. The group will repay the amount with 20 equal instalments. The project helps to revolve the grant amount in regular intervals which in turn ensures a working capital support for a long period of time which is also be considered as repeated doses of grant assistance.


SAF provides technology improvement support that focuses on technical improvement, replacement and repairs, technical support, and application of new and appropriate technologies. An amount of Rs.50,000 each is being provided to the activity groups as Technology Improvement Assistance.


In order to explore the local market and to build brand awareness; branding of products with suitable packing, labelling, bar coding, licensing and other statutory requirements are necessary. The main aim of branding is the standardization of selected products/ services and also to make the products more appealing. In addition to this, maximum exposure through melas and exhibitions will be ensured through setting up of stalls during festivals, participation in various state level and national exhibitions etc. Making availability of packing materials and labels at subsidized rates, developing communication materials, brochures, product catalogues and fliers, developing market linkages and creating awareness for SAF products through media campaigns (including social media).

            State wide exhibition is meant to ensure the participation of micro-enterprises units in the exhibition/trade fair/mela conducted by different agencies in connection with various festivals or special occasions.  Participation in such fairs not only aims at generating income for its entrepreneurs but also an attempt to create customer base and local acceptance and trust. Major participation is in the commercial stall and food court. Currently SAF units had participated in major programmes like Ente Keralam, Theerasadas, Beypore fest, cooperative Expo etc as a part of the 1st& 2nd Anniversary of our Govt etc.


The units which are not profitable for a long time even after many attempts to make it profitable can shift their business to an appropriate one with a proper micro-plan. The sick units will be identified either directly with the help of field staff or by inviting applications from existing units. Beneficiaries for this component will be selected only after the strict scrutiny and the physical verification on each unit. Each unit will be getting an amount of Rs.50,000 as assistance. The beneficiary should mobilise 25% of amount either in the form of group’s contribution or bank loan.


This revival package is designed to revamp the pandemic affected units through technology improvement or shift to appropriate business. The component helped to ensure sustainability and profitability of respective micro-enterprise units by choosing an extensive application and up-gradation of new and appropriate technologies for ensuring performance. This revival package allowed each sick unit to get a maximum of Rs.50, 000 as grant, which is the 75 % of the total amount and other 25% will be bank loan or group’s contribution. SAF has provided this grant only against 25% of funds arranged by unit members. In the case of shifting to appropriate business, the units which are not profitable for a long time even after many attempts to make it profitable, had shifted their business to an appropriate one with a proper micro-plan.


          SAF assists groups to procure loans up to Rs. 5.00 lakh from nationalized/co-operative banks. This enable the units to scale up their business. A 5% percentage of annual interest of the loan will be paid by SAF directly to the bank as interest subsidy.



       Ensuring Livelihood Security of Fisherwomen

Society for Assistance to Fisherwomen (SAF) implements the JLG with an aim to wipe away the exploitation of private money lenders and financial insecurity among the fisher women engaged in fish/allied works viz, fish vending, beach work, curers, peeling, drying etc.

As part of the project, 1050 Joint Liability Groups comprising of 5 members are formed covering 5250 fisherwomen beneficiaries in Trivandrum, Kollam, Alappuzha, Ernakulam, Thrissur and Kasaragod districts. A grant amount of Rs. 50,000/JLG (10,000/member) as interest free working capital revolving fund is given to these JLGs as first phase with a total of Rs. 525 lakhs and based on the repayment the amount is revolving in the JLGs itself. The limit of RF amount in succeeding phases has been scaled up to a maximum of Rs, 20,000 per member.

The JLGs are linked to Kerala Bank and the working capital assistance of Rs. 50,000 per JLG as revolving fund is sanctioned through their group account. The facilitators are managing and coordinating the entire JLG activities at field level for ensuring the timely repayment of loan. A money management software is maintained to monitor the entire process of RF disbursement and repayment.


SAF has implemented ‘Theeramythri Sea food restaurant project across marine districts in Kerala ensuring the best quality seafood at an affordable price. The main aim of the project is to encourage the value addition in fishery and there by providing good quality seafood products at a reasonable price for poor people and thus ensuring food security. Through this project, 45 seafood restaurants are established in 9 coastal areas in Kerala benefitting 225 fisherwomen. The project helped to revive the sector ensuring livelihood security, food security and stable income. The 75% of the total project cost of each unit is provided as grant assistance ie, Rs. 1 Lakh /member, 20% is covered through bank loan and remaining 5% is contributed by the concerned beneficiaries.


SAF has implemented the ‘Ashtamudi Project Phase II’ by establishing 12 new micro enterprise units with 48 working women beneficiaries under tailoring and garments industry in consortium model for the better quality of life and improved income for fisherwomen. The project aims to create benchmark in the apparel industry through fisherwomen by introducing a new brand of apparels supporting the inland fisherwomen in achieving suitable livelihood and sustainable income. The project primarily focuses on commercial production of sleep wares, uniforms and outsourcing of popular brands by working the micro enterprises units together helping them to pool and share their resources to achieve better results. Tie up with Tailoring & Garments Category Federation of SAF and introduced online marketing & sales system and connected to the social media platform.


With a view to market the Supplyco Maveli Products through Theeramythri Supermarkets and Community Provision Stores, Department of Fisheries in association with Department of Civil Supplies coined the concept of Theeramaveli. Supplyco subsidized products are available to coastal population through 10 supermarkets and 5 community provision stores across the state.

Theeramaveli project is intended to achieve sustainability of Theeramythri Supermarkets and Community Provision Stores by acting as an outlet for supplyco maveli products, Fast Moving Consumer Goods items and their own items


            This hygienic system of fish vending helps in delivering quality fish to the consumers at a reasonable price and to improve the sales and business of the fisherwomen beneficiaries. The refrigeration-enabled kiosk has improved the handling and marketing of the fish without compromising with the hygiene. Established 20 Kiosks benefitting 42 fisherwomen beneficiaries in association with CIFT and established 20 fish vending kiosks benefitting 43 fisherwomen in association with Cochin Shipyard Ltd-CSR project.

  1. Gender Equality and Women Empowerment Policy

Under this policy, SAF has provided online course on Digital media and marketing to 30 young and educated women from fishing community. Through this project, beneficiaries are equipped with skills in digital media and online marketing. Provided technical support (Tablet) to the beneficiaries of the course to pursue digital media as a full-time profession. The online course has been given with the tie-up of ASAP- Additional Skill Acquisition Programme of Higher education department. On completion of the online courses, these trainees were given 6 months practical training in the online marketing and sales in SAF micro enterprise units.


MAJOR INITIATIVES, programmes and supporting systems OF SAF


An important milestone in the Theeramythri programme was the formation of local level bodies for the management of the Theeramythri initiatives. These bodies called ‘Theeramythri Managment Councils-TMC’ comprise of Gram Panchayat officials, ward members, officials from the Fisheries department, representatives of Theeramythri entrepreneurs, and Kudumbashree representatives. The TMCs monitor and guide the performance of the local initiatives in a decentralised and participative manner. At present there are 117 TMCs working across Kerala. In addition, TMCs are also engaged in regular monitoring of activities.


The micro enterprises, formed under the Theeramythri program, have been categorized according to the nature of their business, and the units falling under each category have been grouped under the respective category federation. Each of the category federations is further combined to form Apex Federation. On the basis of the nature of business conducted by the micro-enterprises, five category federations have been formed. They are Fish & Fish Processing Category Federation       Food & Food Processing Category Federation, Textiles & Garments Category Federation, Supermarket & Retail Stores Category Federation, Service & Others. Each of the category federations is further combined to form Apex Federation.  


            For improving the business of SAF microenterprises, SAF has linked 762 micro enterprises of different categories to social medias so far. Registration, license, product quality, packing, product label, design and storage in all units are ensured. QR code google mapping are introduced in the units for the online sales. For the promotion of products through online marketing the process of making of digital adds, posters, short videos are progressing. The product delivery system has been upgraded with the services of delivery partner/home delivery for getting maximum reach to the products. This initiative has in turn increased the unit sales volume.


This component aims at the holistic development of fisherwomen through, medical/awareness camps, mental health clinics and also by offering financial support to the beneficiaries suffering from serious illness, either for treatment or towards the purchase of required medicine. The fisherwomen are susceptible to many occupational health problems. It is envisaged to provide healthcare in Indian System of Medicine (Ayurveda) as well as Modern System of Medicine. SAF has conducted many medical camps in the past years and witnessed wide acceptance from the coastal community. SAF also offer financial healthcare support to SAF beneficiaries who are suffering from serious illness. Such beneficiaries will be given a maximum of Rs. 20000/- towards the purchase of required medicine certified by the competent medical practitioner and on the basis of recommendation from district nodal officer, SAF.                              Understanding the drastic increase in psychological stress, SAF has initiated mental wellness clinics to address the psychological needs of fisherwomen beneficiaries through counselling sessions and OP services at their door step. As a part of community wellness interventions, Mental Wellness Clinics have been conducting in the selected coastal areas of Thiruvananthapuram, Ernakulam and Kozhikode districts to provide holistic care among the fisherwomen.  This component of community wellness is catering to both mental as well as physical wellness.



            An important intervention made by SAF to overcome the economic crisis is by giving financial assistance in the form of credit support ie, long term loan at low interest rate with a repayment period of 3 years, by linking them with Kerala Bank. A group consisting of 2-5 members will be getting a maximum of Rs. 2 Lakhs or Rs. 50,000 per member. This helped SAF units to tide over the Covid pandemic financial crisis.


            An important intervention made by SAF to overcome the economic crisis is by giving financial assistance in the form of credit support ie, through the issuance of KCC for groups with fish/allied activities. Both DME and JLG units who are active in the fish/allied sector has availed KCC loan at a low interest rate, to improve their business activities.


            India International Trade Fare (IITF) is one of the largest international events organised by Indian trade Promotional Council (ITPO) every year at New Delhi from 14th to 27th November.  SAF units have participated in the last seven episodes of IITF and fetched several business orders and awards. Last participation was in IITF 2022. SAF has introduced online payment system in both commercial stall and food court to make payment easy for the customers. The products of SAF units were showcased in attractive packing without compromising the quality. 


Society for Assistance to Fisherwomen (SAF) becomes a part of Schuchitwa sagaram Sundara Theeram project of harbour engineering department by Participating in campaigns and awareness programmes in all marine districts. Cycle /vehicle rally, beach side walk, banners, hoardings, seminars, participation in Theeronnathi awareness programs are the major highlights of the project.


Anti drug awareness programmes were conducted in 9 coastal districts in the form of rally, street play, drawing competition, procession, tournaments, flash mob, awareness classes, seminars, cultural programme, puppet show, magic show, folk songs, announcements, posters, banners, brochures, leaflets etc. The programme has been conducted in association with coastal police, voluntary organisations, NGO’s and with the support of general public.



            The Fisheries Department has organised ‘Theerasadas’ in the coastal constituencies. SAF became a part of this programme along with the support of Nodal offices of marine districts. It is a public interaction programme to interact with the people along the coastal region, hear their issues and take remedial measures along with promoting the development and welfare programmes of the government among the fishermen. SAF has also organized grant and award distribution in the Theerrasadas.           





            SAF has extended the handholding support to microenterprises with a focus on their existence and sustainable development. Thus, SAF has initiated the concept of conducting project clinics in each district cater to the performance improvement of weak units. In the initial phase, project clinics has been conducted in 9 marine districts and in Kottayam by involving 93 micro enterprise units under different categories with diverse obstacles. The issues of each unit have been scrutinised and necessary directions were given in the project clinic. Prepared action plan for each unit to make it effective, which includes technical support, change in location/activity, change in group member, credit support, marketing assistance, skill upgradation trainings etc.



            Confederation of Indian Industry’s (CII) along with Master Card and National Institute for MSMEs (ni-msme) is implementing Digital Saksham Project.  The project aims to help Micro & Small Enterprise to attain the knowledge and access to personal finance strategies and digital financial instruments through digital tools. In the initial stage, training on various aspects of Digital Media Marketing Training has been given to the members of Textiles and Garments Category Federation of SAF and will extend this training programme for a better change in the marketing and sales strategies adopted by the microenterprises.


            SAF in association with Kerala Knowledge Economy Mission (KKEM) is implementing Thozil Theeram employment programme. Currently 1366 SAF beneficiaries have registered in the KKEM Portal. Thozil Theeram aims to provide employment to the educated by transforming the State of Kerala into a Knowledge Society providing gainful employment to 20 lakh people over the next five years in various sectors and job verticals.


             e-Shram is a national database for unorganised workers and has been rolled out for the overall welfare of  unorganised workers. This aims for the better execution of various social security schemes for the unorganised sector workers and will also help in delivering social security schemes implemented by the Central and state governments. 6415 SAF beneficiaries have registered in the e-SHRAM portal.



            Another initiative taken by SAF units is conducting Masa Chandha, to promote the sale of SAF products. This improves the sales of DME units in each district and also to familiarise SAF products to the public which will end in wide publicity and demand for the products.



            Field level implementation of the project by the Mission coordinators is monitored by nodal officers in each district. Weekly meetings are conducted at district level to assess the activities and to make action plans. Monthly reports by the Mission Coordinators are consolidated at district level. Based on these, state level reports are prepared. Special efforts have been initiated to ensure accountability, transparency, and reporting across the Theeramythri spectrum. These include facilitating system and process improvements, handholding in accounting and management practices, and streamlining operations and business processes. Periodic review meetings were conducted state level to analyse the progress in the field level project activities. Necessary directions will be given to District Nodal Officers and Mission Coordinators in review meetings to improve the performance. SAF Executive Director visits the micro enterprises in each district as a part of field monitoring.


            SAF is maintaining a GPS and time-based reporting system called Activity Report Management Information System to increase the transparency between SAF officials and activity groups to improve the overall performance in empowering fisherwomen groups. It is used to record the daily activities of mission coordinators in a systematic way.



            SAF is maintaining a web based progressive mobile application system to records and monitor the entire money transactions of Revolving Fund given to JLG units. Disbursement and repayment status of JLG revolving fund is currently tracking through this software. 



            SAF work with different departments and functionaries to ensure efficient service delivery to the beneficiaries.  Managerial and field coordination support for SAF projects are concerned with a range of issues starting from the management of micro enterprises to the governance. It involves a huge number of activities involving various departments and agencies both Governmental and Non-Governmental. Major support are through Civil Supplies Department (Theeramaveli Project), Central Institute of Fisheries Technology (CIFT), Harbour Engineering Department, Department Of Industries, Kerala State Women Development Corporation (REACH’s Skill Training, NMDFC Loan), Kerala Bank (Bank Linkage to SAF Unit), Social Justice Department (ICDS Programme), Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) and Cooperation Department (Care Grace Programme), Additional Skill Acquisition Programme (ASAP) of Higher education Department (Digital Media marketing Training), Mental Health Action Trust (Mental wellness clinics), Apparel Training & Design Centre- ATD (Skill Training), Confederation of Indian Industry -CII (Digital Saksham Project).


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