Women Agents to Deliver Financial Services in Rural Areas of Western Nepal

July 27, 2016 – Chhimek Laghubitta Bikas Bank is expanding the outreach of its products and services in rural outposts in western Nepal, through women banking agents through a partnership with UKaid Sakchyam. The project partnership – Digital Mahila: Digital Women Channel Partners for Gender Inclusive Micro Finance Services Project – will empower able local women as branchless banking agents to work around topographical challenges in Banke, Dadeldhura, Dang, Kailali and Rukum. The project was launched today amidst an event at Hotel Summit in Sanepa.

The proposed project will have two distinct features. The recruited Digital Mahila agents will be trained and supported with necessary equipment and internet connectivity to function independently in areas unserved by Chhimek’s physical branches. In the back-end, these agents’ transactions will be linked to the bank’s Management Information System (MIS) through digital devices to ensure online, real-time transaction. This feature is expected to do away with the requirement to travel to physical branches to record transaction data; the branch will support its agents by monitoring real time transactions.

Speaking at the event, Mr. Baljit Vohra, Team Leader, Sakchyam said, “Sakchyam has strived to push the barriers of innovation to improve financial access for Nepal’s rural poor through our partnerships with the industry’s leading institutions. Chhimek is recognized in the microfinance industry as a strong MFI maintaining excellent portfolio quality because of its strong monitoring of branch office works and dedicated staff. With this project Chhimek is taking on the challenge of going beyond its “comfort zone” and using its female clients as agents and extending its program in areas that are not covered by branch offices. We are confident that Chhimek’s Digital Mahila will empower local communities and improve their access to timely and crucial financial services.”

Mr. Ramchandra Joshee, CEO, Chhimek Laghubitta Bikas Bank said, “We would like to thank DFID Nepal and Sakchyam for their support to this partnership. Chhimek will ensure that our agents will provide the same quality of service in these areas as the institution has provided elsewhere to strengthen the local economy and communities.”

Mr. Raman Nepal, Director, Nepal Rastra Bank said, “Nepal Rastra Bank today has added emphasis to its financial inclusion objectives so I am glad to see this partnership encourage women banking agents in taking the lead to improve financial access in their communities.”

Sakchyam is an access to finance programme funded by UKaid. It is implemented by Louis Berger for the Department for International Development (DFID) in Nepal, in partnership with local and international institutions.

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