Samam Makalir Suyasarbu Iyakkam (SAMAM)was formed as off-shoot of the total literacy programme called PUDUVAI ARIVOLI IYAKKAM in Puducherry which was implemented by the Pondicherry Science Forum during the years 1089-1992. The women’s wing of the literacy programme was later formed into the Samam after the programme was completed in the year 1992.
The first Samam Core committee was formed by a group of women whom PSF trained on leadership qualities by sending them to Mahila Samakhya. The initial activities of Samam was on legal literacy, anti-arrack movement, women’s libraries and continuing education, Savings groups on the lines of the Poduppu lakshmi (of Andhrapradesh Literacy programme fame) etc. The earliest savings groups were formed in the year 1993 with one rupee savings every day (formed in Karikkalampakkam, Kathirgamam etc.).
From 1994 onwards along with NABARD, Samam started forming the SHGs limiting the number of women to 20 and based on the SHG principles formed by NABARD. By the same time, the MALAR SHGs in Kanyakumari also had started forming SHGs, and SAMAM borrowed the operating principles of MALAR to form independent, women’s own groups run exclusively by women.
Currently SAMAM operates about 300 SHGs independent of any government programme. They also run a number of women run enterprises, a monthly newsletter, training programmes on leadership skills, management skills, entrepreneurial training programmes etc.