Sakchyam Access to Finance Programme Turns One

 Sakchyam, a UK Aid funded Access to Finance Programme, has completed a year of operations. The programme’s efforts, which works to expand the reach of financial services to rural populations, many of whom belong to marginalized groups, in remote regions of Nepal, have shown promising outcomes.

Through the work done in its first year, Sakchyam is working with its partners in setting up a total of 286 Branchless Banking touch points in 32 districts, 14 of which were adversely affected by the April 25, 2015 Gorkha earthquake; 15 Extension/Collection Counters in 8 districts; 43 branch offices of financial institutions in 21 districts; and 42 tablet banking points in 10 districts. Sakchyam has also worked with progressive financial institutions to introduce several value chain financing products.

Fifteen unique partnerships with 11 commercial banks are supporting 5 product innovations, 1 delivery channel innovation, outreach expansions through 10 physical branches and more than 250 remote touchpoints. Partnerships with 7 different microfinance have resulted in financial services in more than 23 districts. Sakchyam has supported these MFIs to design, develop, pilot-test and launch new demand-led loan products, and revise other financial products. Undertaking their own capacity assessments, the MFIs are also working on their capacity development plans to ensure their services meets industry standards.

Sakchyam’s support toward partner institutions adopting new technology is resulting in various interventions such as robust Management Information Systems to pilot technology-driven, financial service delivery channels, tablet banking projects, as well as exploiting the reach of mobile technology to educate beneficiaries regarding available financial services. All of these services are aimed at transforming the area’s financial landscape by bringing more services, reducing travel time for beneficiaries, and enabling secure transactions in the region.

Financial literacy projects such as capacity development plans, group/centre-based and technology-based financial literacy course curricula, and financial literacy pilot campaigns using community radio, tablets, and Interactive Voice Response (IVR) messaging, have also been initiated to prepare and educate beneficiaries simultaneously. IVR technology alone will result in financial literacy messages directed to mobiles phones of 6000 clients, while 10,000 clients of partner financial institutions are receiving financial literacy messages through the other channels. These interventions have been made possible through several partnerships.

All these interventions have been supported by Sakchyam’s technical assistance and committed Challenge Fund investment of NPR 637 million. Altogether, these projects aim to benefit more than 277,000 individuals and more than 23,000 MSMEs in 14 districts in the Mid- and Far-Western Development Regions, as well as in the 14 earthquake-affected districts.

While Sakchyam’s work in Year 1 has focused on districts in the mid- and far-western development regions, most of which either unserved or underserved by the formal financial sector, for Year 2, it will be adding more districts such as Bajhang, Dolpa, Humla, Jumla, Kanchanpur, Kalikot, Manang, and Mugu. For Sakchyam’s second year, several new partnerships with commercial banks, microfinance institutions, and related institutions are in the pipeline with a focus on innovative financial services; value chain financing products; technology-driven financial services and alternative delivery channels; financial literacy campaigns to improve efficiency and cut overhead costs; and refined existing financial products with additional features. The Sakchyam Challenge Fund will continue to accept proposals from banks and microfinance institutions to support innovative projects.

Sakchyam is being implemented by Louis Berger for DFID Nepal with help from several local and international partner institutions.

Download Nepali Press Release Here