In the center of the town in the streets of Illam, people gathered in a circle to watch the show unfold. Suddenly, out of nowhere came an older man, visibly distressed by losing money at the hands of a moneylender who charged him exorbitant rates and tried to cheat him.
Over the next 20 minutes, the man learned about the value of savings, loans, and using formal financial institutions, among other topics, from his wife, daughter, and other community members. At the end of the play, the MC reiterated the key message and asked audience members to share their observations and lessons learnt. A branch manager of Sahara SACCOS Nepal, a local cooperative that also offers community services through its non-profit organization, concluded with a few remarks about the importance of financial literacy and the cooperative’s offerings.
“I learned that I can provide good education to my children by taking out an educational loan from a financial institution and about savings,” said community member Mrs. Lila Bhandari who watched the show intently.
With the support of the UKaid-Sakchyam Access to Finance Programme (Sakchyam), Sahara SACCOs Nepal launched this street drama programme in Jhapa to build financial literacy in local communities. To date, 37 events have been held around the Jhapa, Sunsari, and Illam Districts in the Eastern Development Region. Each event has attracted hundreds of people of all ages. The hope is that the dramas will increase awareness and understanding of the importance of financial products and services; how and where to access them; and, how to best use them.
Unlike traditional forms of financial literacy that often rely upon written materials and a classroom setting, street dramas offer an interactive programme at a common, public place. No reading or writing is required, making it a more effective tool for illiterate or neo-literate audiences. Trained actors are from the local community, using the same local language and dialect. They teach lessons using real life scenarios and characters so people can easily relate.
“A drama is distinct because it’s live and people can see and feel it…it presents a message that influences and stays for a long time with people,” said Mr. Madhab Kalpit, Director of the Kshitiz Natya Group who held the play.
The script for the drama was developed by the Kshitiz Natya Group with technical input from UKaid-Sakchyam and Sahara SACCOS to address some of the main challenges to access to finance and enterprise development. Each time the play is performed it is revised to make it more effective. The impact has so far been very positive:
“We’re seeing people internalize it and change their mindset for business planning and financial management,” said Mr. Nabin Lamichhane, Program Officer, Sahara SACCOS Nepal.
Sahara has seen an increase in the number of members and people accessing its products and services since it started the program and will now begin formally tracking the increase this month.
By Rachel Hartgen & Suman Dhakal – Sakchyam