Nepal’s mid- and far-western regions have thriving, busy towns with plenty of modern facilities. A few kilometres outside these towns however, the region’s villages have starkly different environments. Although these villages have immense potential in areas such as agriculture and tourism, access to basic services such as education, healthcare and finance have hindered their progress. Most financial institutions provide services in urban and semi-urban areas, catering to relatively affluent populations. Providing access to finance with Branchless Banking (BLB) touch points and financial products and services tailored to these remote communities help unlock opportunities.
During an interaction with locals in mid- and far-western Nepal, locals explained that lack of financial institutions with rural-based banking products and services resulted in dependency on informal borrowings for their financial needs. Although the presence of government-owned banks was observed in some areas; they were deemed inefficient and did not venture beyond loans against collateral within the comforts of their branches. This resulted in the population in the surrounding villages falling back on informal loans even when a bank branch was present in their region.
To cater to the gap illustrated by such a demography and as observed by Janata Bank’s team in underserved districts, UKaid Sakchyam Access to Finance Programme (Sakchyam) supported Janata Bank with the aim to set up 50 BLB touch points and during the project period in Darchula, Achham, Kailali and Dhangadi districts of Nepal. The bank also planned to lend products like Women Entrepreneur Loan, Small and Medium Loan to businesses/enterprises, Agro-based Loan, Low-cost Housing Loan, Cattle and Livestock Farming Loan and Bee farming Loan, among others, to the local populace of the above mentioned districts.
Janata Bank has worked at the VDC level in 5 districts: Darchula, Achham, Kailali and Dang in the mid- and far-west. Their target groups are the financially underserved population in rural areas, and small and medium sized business firms.
As of September 2018, Janata Bank has launched 40 BLB touch points and opened over 5,300 accounts with total deposits of over GBP 678 K. The bank has also disbursed loans over GBP 603 K through the BLBs touch points.