UKaid Sakchyam Access to Finance Programme is committed connecting the rural poor, DAGs, and women to formal financial products and services in order to enable them with choices to save, borrow, invest, and earn. Appropriate design of financial products and services to meet specific needs at different stages of the Value Chain of the clients’ businesses is one of the pre-requisites for meaningful access to finance, especially for enterprising clients. Sakchyam believes that the microfinance sector with innovative and client need based products such as Value Chain Finance can have visible positive impacts on clients’ socio-economic status and also leads the institution towards its mission with dedicated clients, quality portfolio, improved competitiveness and sustainability.
Despite a mission to reduce poverty, many of the microfinance institution’s (MFI’s) clients are living in subsistence economy even after a long time affiliation to them. Lack of appropriate products and services to support on significant increase on the clients’ income, employment and professionalism is one of the various causes of this situation. The clients mostly affiliate with MFIs with hope to improve their income and livelihood through financial access and exposures. On the other hand, MFIs too seek their client utilize the products and services, get benefit, and hence become disciplined and loyal to the institution. But lack of suitable products and services to match their needs demotivates especially the enterprising clients so that they may affiliate with many similar institutions in pursuit of desired products or limit their aspirations at subsistence level. As a result, despite MFI’s programmes and hard effort, their strategy fails to achieve desired results that may lead to insignificant improvement in outreach, portfolio, efficiency, effectiveness and sustainability.
Sahara Nepal Saving and Credit Cooperative Ltd. (Sahara), registered at Jhapa District Cooperative Office, is one of the largest cooperatives in Nepal. It is implementing another project ‘Scaling up Access to Financial Products and Services in Rural Nepal’ with Sakchyam’s support to open new branches; develop/refine innovative products; tablet banking and comprehensive financial literacy. This project is specifically targeted to establish sustainable value chain systems for commercialization of goat and poultry farming using latest efficient technologies in each of the six work districts of Sahara namely Jhapa, Ilam, Sunsari, Morang, Panchthar and Udayapur in technical partnership with Sahara NGO and Heifer International. For this, the project is developing 10 and 15 pocket areas of poultry and goat respectively in 101 clusters. It aims to support more than 14,900 SME clients including poultry and goat farmers, processors and suppliers. Fifty veterinary health workers will also be trained and deployed to deliver their services. Existing Commercial Agriculture Loan, new SME loan, Kisan Saving and Entrepreneur Saving products will be developed to meet the entrepreneurs’ needs. This will unlock over NPR 3,000 million loan and mobilize NPR 510 million deposits. The project also aims livestock insurance by 14,000 clients and offer training/exposures to 20,000 clients. Eight resource centres with laboratory, 500 improved fresh houses, and 8 market pavilions will be established in suitable locations. The entire project activities, beneficiaries, market and other value chain actors will be linked with mobile application to facilitate automatic dealing on their wards. Value Chain Financial literacy campaigns through various modes such as audio-visuals, apps, meetings, radio etc. will reach to 20,000 people to support improving financial behaviour of the clients and other stakeholders. Sahara plans to reach 60% rural, 35% poor, 95% women, and 40% youths among the beneficiaries.
Despite proposal to implement in 6 districts, as the project is new and challenging, it was approved to pilot it only in one district, Jhapa for the first year. This has limited the targets of the project as well. As of September 2018 Sahara Nepal has,
- Piloted in 4 pockets and 11 clusters of Jhapa district
- Made Output Based Agreement with Heifer
- Hired 17 staff, oriented staff and Project Management Committee
- Conducted Baseline survey for VCF.
- Providing Animal Health and Husbandry, meat hygiene, financial literacy, business planning trainings to staff, farmers, and VC stakeholders.
As of March 2019, Sahara has:
- Served around 387 customers, all of them being women
- Served 152 DAG customer, out of 387
- Disbursed over NPR 100 million in loans to those customers