UKaid Sakchyam Access to Finance Programme (Sakchyam) is committed to connecting the rural poor, disadvantaged groups (DAGs) and women to formal financial products and services in order to enable them with choices to save, borrow, invest, and earn. While enhancing access to finance for people living in remote and inaccessible regions is an urgent need, efficiency and sustainability of doing so are critical. To do so, Sakchyam partners with financial institutions who are committed to downscaling, innovation, and sustainability.
In the hilly region of Province 5 of the country, people face a number of challenges in accessing and utilizing finance products and services. These include lack of bank branches and branchless banking (BLB) points; a weak entrepreneurial base, insufficient use of product processes and technology and limited social mobilisation; and, a lack of appropriate financial products and services, including products for agricultural mechanisation and climate/green/energy financing.
Mahila Sahayatra Microfinance Bittiya Sanstha Ltd. (MS) is a registered Microfinance Development Bank (MFDB). MS partnered with Sakchyam to establish five new branches to serve marginalized communities in Rolpa, Rukum, Salyan, and Surkhet districts in Province 5. MS identified the target communities and introduced entrepreneurial capacity building activities such as training, exposure visits, market/ trader linkage, etc.
In addition to its existing products and services, MS also introduced loan products such as Mechanisation, and Education, aiming to provide credit for the modern agriculture tools; reduction of carbon emission; and higher education of clients’ children. As part of the project, MS integrated financial literacy as a vehicle to reach more clients with a better understanding of the products and services, along with money management skills. New technologies like Interactive Voice Response (IVR), short films, flip chart, brochure etc. have also been introduced. MS have also introduced Enterprise Development Service (EDS), an inbuilt model of skilled training along with the loan which help its client better utilize the loan, with the technical support of Berendina, a pioneer of EDS activity in Sri Lanka. Through the EDS services, MS offers paid skill trainings to its clients to start and up-scale the enterprises along with loan.
As of March 2019, Mahila Sahayatra has,
- Launched all 5 branches, reaching over 7,000 beneficiaries
- Disbursed over NPR 803 million in loan and collected NPR 72.7 million in savings
- Disbursed Business Loan to over 2,600 customers
- Launched EDS activities in 10 branches with the technical support of Berendina Microfinance, a pioneer of EDS activity in Sri Lanka