The financial sector of Nepal is growing steadily, offering financial products and services through a network of branches spread across the country. The challenge now is to address the constraints that exclude certain populations from full participation in the financial system. Even today, large rural populations in the western, mid-western and far-western parts of the country lack access to formal financial services as most financial institutions are located in urban and semi-urban areas.
A large number of people in rural areas of the region lack access to formal financial services to support their consumption and income-generating activities. In the absence of formal financial service providers, these people are compelled to rely upon informal and high-cost financial sources. Many banks and financial institutions still see having a brick-and-mortar (physical) presence as the only way expand their network. And they are reluctant to expand in rural areas due to poor infrastructure and high cost of operations among other challenges. The use of Alternate Delivery Channels such as Branchless Banking (BLB), which is best suited to increase outreach in a cost-effective manner, is still low among financial institutions. With this gap, the contribution of such large populations to the economy and the potential of the region as a whole, is left untapped.
Everest Bank Limited (EBL), with UKaid Sakchyam support, intends to reach out to the unbanked communities in remote areas with various value-added services with the adoption of technology. EBL will increase banking channels to unbanked/low-banked people to inculcate a banking habit through Agent Banking (Branchless Banking) by collecting deposits and fulfilling the financial needs of individuals, agricultural cooperatives and MSMEs by providing loans. To meet this objective, EBL will focus on taking financial services to rural areas under this SEBA Project. The agents will be equipped with tablet devices to execute transactions.
The project targets major districts of the far-western, mid-western and western regions in a phase-wise manner. In total, 27 districts will be covered through 50 BLBs from three development regions within the project period. In the programme implementation period, EBL will disburse NRs. 247.2 million in loans of which 50% of the beneficiaries will be women. The Bank has a target to reach more than 23,584 customers with its products.
Banking starts with inculcating habits of saving. This will result in increase of wealth with the interest provided on their deposits; this in turn will also improve their income and livelihoods. Also, the socially and economically marginalised people will have improved access to banking channels which will help improve their economic status and quality of life. Agri-businesses in villages are predominantly carried out by women, economically marginalized people – such as Tharus, Dalits, Janajatis and other disadvantaged groups. Access to financial services from EBL will help to enhance their economic status.
Latest Update on Sakchyam-Everest Partnership
As of September 2017, Everest have