(A partnership between UKaid Sakchyam and Mahila Sahayatra Laghubitta Bittiya Sanstha Ltd)
In recent years, the number of Microfinance Institutions (MFIs) has drastically increased, especially in the peri-urban and rural areas of Nepal. This has led to better access to financial services and products among the population of these areas.
The presence of many MFIs in a single area led to a tendency of multiple borrowings among the clients. It is observed that the availability of credit without value addition service didn’t ensure proper usage and credit demand remained limited. The trend of using credit from one MFI to repay the loan of another and not for any income-generating initiatives became prevalent.
The lack of relevant entrepreneurial skills among the people is considered as one of the major bottlenecks for the absence of significant enterprise activity in rural areas. Even existing enterprises have been struggling with a lack of access to markets beyond the local area. The organic products have high demand in the urban areas but the products are not being marketed effectively.
In an effort to provide skills training along with loans to the clients, UKaid Sakchyam Access to Finance had supported Mahila Sahayatra Microfinance Bittiya Sanstha Ltd. to pilot-test Enterprise Development Service (EDS) in its 10 branches (including 5 Sakchyam-supported branches) in Province 5 & Karnali province.
The pilot programme demonstrated that integration of EDS with credit ensures better loan usage and boosts enterprise development. Under the EDS, Mahila Sahayatra provides technical training, business skill development, business counselling and market linkages to the clients who have taken loans for their existing and/or new enterprises. The loan clients get coupons worth a certain amount (depending upon the size of their loan) which can be used to avail relevant skills training.
Sakchyam and Mahila Sahayatra have launched their second partnership to extend the EDS programme to an additional 16 branches located in Provinces 2 and 3. The lessons learnt from EDS implementation in Province 5 is used as the guidelines to ensure effective EDS in the selected areas. The project aims to encourage entrepreneurs to explore new avenues for enterprise expansion and reach to a wider market.
The second project will also intensify the EDS programme in the pilot-tested branches to reach out to new clients and provide advanced skills training to those who have already received basic training.
The project which will focus on the 26 branches of Mahila Sahayatra aims to:
- Provide EDS to 5,000 clients in the selected branches.
- Help clients develop their enterprise further by offering skills training focused on business development
- Enlarge the product variety of clients by providing access to more markets
- Build the staff capacity to meet the clients training requirement
- Help clients market their products in an effective manner
As of March 2021, Mahila Sahayatra has:
- Reached more than 3,200 beneficiaries
- Disbursed loan of more than NPR 91 million
- Collected deposits above NPR 10 million
- Deployed 52 tablets in 26 branches