At the time of Kudumbashree's formation, its mandate was eradication of absolute poverty in Kerala. Kudumbashree was expected to achieve this over a period of ten years. The three-member Task Force that had recommended its formation was clear on the organisational form of Kudumbashree and its relationship with local government institutions. The government order setting up the new entity or the subsequent directions from the government did not insist on a programme design for Kudumbashree.
"We were given the mandate to formulate programmes that would help eradicate absolute poverty. The thrift and credit programme was part of the design. There were experiences of self employment and enterprise promotion in other programmes. Within Kudumbashree, the team was given the freedom to explore and experiment. It was an environment that actively encouraged new ideas, formulation of new schemes, and experimentation"
- T.K. Jose IAS, former Executive Director, Kudumbashree
Thus, Kudumbashree programmes as we see them today, came out of a system that promoted innovation and encouraged new ideas. Several of the schemes came out of inputs and demands from the field. The current programme domains evolved over the years. As of now Kudumbashree has three major programme domains:
- Economic Empowerment
- Social Empowerment
- Women Empowerment
In addition to these, Kudumbashree also implements the urban poverty alleviation programmes of the Government of India.
If one looks closely at Kudumbashree's programmes, a natural question would be on their evolution. Many of the schemes that Kudumbashree formulated and implemented were present in some form or the other in programmes that were already running. How was it then possible for Kudumbashree to formulate programmes that apparently transcended departmental boundaries?
T.K. Jose says that initially not many people took Kudumbashree seriously. Earlier responses ranged from skeptic indifference to pessimism. Many quarters opted to neglect it as a probably good yet impractical idea. This, in fact helped Kudumbashree in its early stages. The Mission went on formulating programmes mostly based on learning from the field. There were no funds specifically allotted for these new programmes. It was through a lot of innovative steps that relied on convergence of existing schemes that the Kudumbashree programmes evolved.