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Access to finance: Empowering women

Mina in her tomato farm

Mina Rai is a member of the Kanyatar Saving and Credit Cooperative Society (SACCO), a recently formed SACCO merged from 28 existing Village Saving and Loan Associations (VSLAs) in Limba Village Development Committee (VDC) of Panchthar. Mina Rai says, “Before Kanyatar SACCO, we used to do financial transactions with the VSLA, friends, family, and sometimes even with money lenders. The loan from the small group was never enough to meet the demands of our members, and we had to pay 24% interest on loans, but no interest was made on our savings”.

Since there was no formal financial institution in Limba, people have to travel to Phidim or the nearest market of Jhapa or Morang district to access financial services. This lack of access to formal financial services left communities to resort to taking loans from local informal money-lenders who charge high interest rates and have unfavorable repayment terms.

“We only knew about VSLAs, but after participating in the workshops, we came to know that even in a village, a formal SACCO can be a helping hand in times of need,” says Mina Rai.

Even though the SACCO was formed just 5 months back, it is functioning very well. Mina has taken a loan of NPR 20,000 and invested in raising goats and tomato farming. She initiated tomato farming as a trial and the harvest was successful, she was able to sell her tomatoes in her village. She is planning to expand tomato farming in the future. She has already sold two goats and has enough money to repay her first loan installment.

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