Initially SWERA functioned as a cultural group raising awareness on socio-economic issues in some 70 villages in Ajmer district, through folk media like skits and puppet shows. They found that this work was very effective in motivating the communities to get involved in social and community issues and this in turn prompted SWERA to promote and implement related schemes and activities.
SWERA therefore took up a Literacy Project in 1995 in 25 villages in Srinagar block. The area was at that time reeling under the effect of a series of droughts and responding to the needs of the people was the first priority. SWERA implemented a Food for Work Project in 6 villages in 1996. And in fact this type of work continued right up to 2017.
It was at this time that the first self help groups (SHGs) were also formed by women working on the project. The groups were formed at the initiative of the women rather than as a planned strategy on the part of SWERA. Two groups started in 1996 and this increased gradually over the next few years. In 1998 the first planned SHG project was undertaken and this has continued to date, with some ups and downs because of discontinuous outside support.