Mr. K Paul Thomas took initiative to establish ESAF as an NGO in Thrissur, Kerala in 1992, with the initial objective of catering to the socio-economic needs of the marginalized people as well as unemployed youth. The vision of ESAF was guided by the principle of sustainable, holistic transformation of the poor and the marginalized. In order to achieve the goal, ESAF initially undertook various training and capacity building programs for the youth, women & Children. From the beginning itself, ESAF realized that lack of access to credit and financial services was a major impediment to transformation of the community.
ESAF believed in community participation in its activities and it was with this objective that SHG Federations were formed in 2008. These federations had helped the members in the mobilization of thrift, loans, leadership development, engaging in economic activities, technical assistance and mostly social and economic empowerment. The federations however were not devoid of any challenges, such as lack of a suitable legal framework, difficulty in mobilizing external resources from financial institution etc.
In the quest of looking for an appropriate structure that suits our requirement (providing various financial and other facilities to the members with a provision to make investments) it was found that Multistate Co-operative is a good vehicle which suits our requirement, and accordingly a Multistate Co-operative was formed in 13th October 2011. ESAF Swasraya Multi State Co-operative Credit Society thus formed.
It would be an ideal vehicle to provide the much visional financial and non-financial services in a sustainable manner for financial inclusion. They could be involved in local development and contribute to the sustainable development of their communities, as their members and management board usually belong to the communities in which they exercise their activities.