(A partnership between UKaid Sakchyam and Sana Kisan Laghubitta Bittiya Sanstha Ltd.)
Small Farmer Agriculture Cooperative Limited (SFACL) provides financial and non-financial services to smallholder farmers in rural areas. Financial services include credit, savings and insurance either directly or in partnership with other financial institutions and insurance companies.
SFACLs organise the small farmers in their villages and motivate them to pursue commercial-scale farming. To help the scaling-up process, such organisations improve farmers’ access to quality inputs at lower prices, develop the technical capacity of farmers and manage reliable markets for the products among many other initiatives.
Sana KisanBikas Laghubitta BittiyaSanstha Limited (SKBBL), a ‘D’ class microfinance institution, supports SFACLs in wholesale credit, capacity development and even in the formation of such cooperatives.
Out of 700 plus SFACLs affiliated to SKBBL throughout the country in 2018, only 44 were located in Karnali province and only 20 out of those were operating efficiently. The key areas that required technical support included governance, accounting, financial management, MIS, monitoring, and better technology for agriculture and livestock farming.
Most of the SFACLs follow the manual documentation of transactions and records – a time-consuming and high-cost process. Even the software – Saralbitta — being used by around 400 SFACLs was not up-to-date. As most of the SFACLs are located in remote areas, they face challenges to manage time for financial transactions in the microfinance model and to deliver non-financial services.
SKBBL was also facing difficulties in providing the necessary technical assistance and monitoring the SFACLs in Karnali Province from their office in Nepalgunj.
UKaid Sakchyam Access to Finance Programme has entered into a partnership with SKBBL to expand its reach in Karnali Province.
Under the partnership, SKBBL has established a branch office in Surkhet and intends to launch SFACLs in 44 new locations in Karnali Province. The branch office will capacitate 88 SFACLs – 44 existing and 44 new — in the province, to enable them to offer quality financial services to their member farmers.
In addition, SKBBL aims to digitize 250 SFACLs throughout Nepal by introducing an updated version of Saralbitta software that can be used both online and offline, with features for tablet banking and Android mobile App. Digitization will allow these SFACLs to automate financial transaction and bring efficiency.
SKBBL will also design financial literacy content which SFACLs will offer to their existing and potential members.
As of March 2020, Sana Kisan has:
- Organised small farmers in 40 locations and replicated SFACL modality registering 36 new SFACLs in Karnali Province
- Reached over 21,000 new beneficiary members of SFACLs
- Unlocked more than NPR 642 million in loans and collected over NPR 400 million deposits from the new members of SFACLs in Karnali Province
- Offered financial counselling to over 10,500 people
- Offered entrepreneurship training and awareness to over 1,800 members of SFACLs
- Trained SKBBL and SFACL staff on Financial Product Development and Financial Literacy
- Upgraded Saralbitta Software, oriented 445 SFACLs on this software operation, and developed Android-based mobile App
- Purchased 678 Tablets with advanced features and distributed the tablets to partner SFACLs after technical inspection