The Sakchyam Access to Finance for the Poor Programme (Sakchyam) is funded by UKaid as part of an agreement between the Governments of Nepal and the UK. Sakchyam is implemented by Louis Berger for the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) in partnership with local and international institutions.
The programme, valued at £27.5 million, is working with the public and private sectors to leverage access and facilitate financial sector development in Nepal for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and for poor people with a focus on the Sudur Paschim, Karnali and Province 5, and beyond. To do so, the programme focuses on three main outputs:
- Improved SME Finance as banks and other financial institutions provide more and better products and services to these enterprises
- Strengthened capacity of Microfinance Institutions (MFIs) as well as other formal and semi-formal financial institutions, to provide services in selected districts
- Improved financial capability of enterprises and households in priority districts
Sakchyam identifies its entry points as market led solutions to market failure and or missing markets. It has established the Sakchyam Challenge Fund to attract and leverage private sector investments to launch innovative business models targeted at poor people and communities; which deliver socio-economic benefits to financially unserved and or underserved people and entities, but on a commercially-sustainable basis. Sakchyam co-invests in innovative projects that has high social value would remain un/under invested if only left to private sectors, but crucial to improve livelihood of target beneficiaries..
While poverty levels have fallen since the end of the conflict in Nepal in 2006, they remain particularly high in the rural western regions where the poverty incidence is as high as 45.6% compared to the national average of 25.16%. These high poverty rates are closely associated with lack of economic opportunities for the poor. One reason for this is the low level of financial access in rural areas which is limited by high delivery costs and risks. Sakchyam therefore focuses on the constraints faced by formal and semi-formal financial institutions (e.g., banks, MFIs, and cooperatives) in expanding the reach of financial services. By filling this gap in the sector, it directly increases SMEs’ and poor households’ access to financial services in underserved regions, increasing private sector activities in rural and semi-urban areas, and helps reduce poverty in Nepal.
The programme has been delivering outputs exceeding the expected results. The overall impact of the Programme will be improved livelihoods in Nepal by increasing the total net income by over £44.14 million. The outcome of the programme will be greater access to a range of financial services for enterprises and poor households, measured by:
- Financial access for over 80,000 Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs);
- An increase in private investment in productive sectors by £220 million; and,
- Access to a range of financial services for over 1.59 million people in the target regions