(A partnership between UKaid Sakchyam and Mahila Sahayatra Laghubitta Bittiya Sanstha Ltd)
In recent years, there has been a rapid increment in the number of Microfinance Institutions (MFIs) and seen their presence grow in the peri-urban and rural areas of Nepal. This means the population in these areas have more access to loan and other financial services. However, better access doesn’t necessarily mean an increase in enterprises or upscaling of the existing enterprises.
A large number of MFIs operating in a single location is leading to multiple borrowing among the clients and higher indebtedness. It is observed that the availability of credit without value addition service didn’t ensure proper usage and credit demand remained limited. There is also a tendency that microfinance clients were using credit to repay other MFIs loan and not for enterprise. In addition, the lack of relevant skill is considered as one of the major reasons for the absence of significant entrepreneurial activity in rural areas.
At the enterprise level, the MFI clients have been struggling with the lack of access beyond the local markets. The organic products have high demand in the urban areas but the products are not being marketed effectively.
In an effort to provide skill training to clients along with the loan, UKaid Sakchyam Access to Finance supported Mahila Sahayatra Microfinance Bittiya Sanstha Ltd. to pilot Enterprise Development Service (EDS) to link microfinance to enterprise development. The pilot project of EDS was implemented in 10 branches (including 5 Sakchyam supported branches) in Province 5. Under the EDS, Mahila Sahayatra provides technical training, business skill development, business counselling and market linkages to the Mahila Sahayatra clients who have taken loans for their existing and/or new enterprises.
The clients have to pay a certain amount to participate in EDS activities. The loan clients will get coupons worth a certain amount (depending upon the size of their loan) which can be used to avail relevant skill training. Till March 2019, Mahila Sahayatra has provided over 146 training to more than 2000 clients.
The positive result of the pilot programme indicated that the integration of EDS with credit ensures better loan usage and enhances enterprise development. Sakchyam has now partnered with Mahila Sahayatra to extend the EDS program to 16 branches in the Province 2 and 3. The second project between Sakchyam and Mahila Sahayatra aims to use the lessons of the pilot project to expand EDS in other areas that Mahila Sahayatra is operating. Through the EDS activities, the project intends to encourage enterprises in exploring new avenues of scaling up and reaching out to a wider market.
In the 10 branches of the pilot stage, the EDS programme will be intensified, under the second project, to reach out to new clients and provide advanced skill training to those who have already received basic training.
To address the challenges of market access, Mahila Sahayatra is partnering with White Lotus Organic Concern Nepal (WLOC) Pvt. Ltd to market the products through the appropriate channel. WLOC will also assist in the process of sorting and packaging of the agricultural products for the intended markets.
The project which will focus on the 26 branches of Mahila Sahayatra with 18,515 enterprise loans disbursed, targets to
- Provide EDS to 5,000 clients in the 26 branches.
- Enlarge the product base of the clients with better access to markets
- Build the staff capacity to meet the clients training requirement
- Help clients develop their enterprise further through the training designed to enhance their knowledge and skills related to business development
- Help clients market their products