74,61,946 Self Help Groups (SHGs) were in existence as on March 31, 2011. NABARD has mentioned that about 80% of the SHGs are Women SHGs. In order to encourage backward linkage of the matured SHGs, NABARD conducts a Micro Enterprise Development Program (MEDP) which focuses on skill up gradation, development of livelihoods and venturing into micro enterprises by members of matured SHGs. During the year 2011-12, 1,914 MEDPs were conducted for 56,292 members on various location-specific farm, non-farm and service activities. For forward linkage NABARD extends grant assistance for setting up of marketing outlets, known as ‘Rural Mart’ at district and sub-district level by Producers Groups, SHGs and their federations, activity groups, farmers’ club etc. for marketing farm and non-farm products including products of rural SHGS/rural artisans/handicrafts sector. The support is intended to cover the risks involved in the initial stages of rural retail marketing. 465 rural marts with a grant support of Rs. 490.34 lakh were sanctioned cumulatively as on 31st March 2012.