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Financial Literacy Training – transforming knowledge into practice and behaviour

Githi Devi in her Grocery Store

Githi Devi Bishwokarma is a resident of Subeda in Bajhang district. She belongs to a Dalit (so called untouchable) family. In rural Nepal, the Bishwokarmas are of the occupational caste whose main profession was ironwork (making agricultural equipment) for the people of other castes for which they either get small amount of cash or kind in the form of some cereals during the time of harvesting of rice, wheat and maize by the higher caste families. However, the money they’re paid or the food grains they are provided is typically at the mercy of the higher caste families they serve, not based on a reliable or even predictable fair market rates, even though they depend greatly on this money and food stuffs.. With the growth of population, reduction in productivity, fragmentation of agricultural land and modernisation in the agricultural equipment, the traditional occupation of Bishwokarmas is at risk and does not earn them enough cash and kind for their food costs for the year. Therefore, Githi’s family is compelled to find other daily labour work for their survival. Githi is one of the share members of the Namuna SACCO established in Subeda VDC 3 years back. She became a member of the SACCO in anticipation of getting some financial support to start some alternate livelihood activity. As the SACCO was newly established, only able to mobilise a small amount of money collected from its members, the collected funds weren’t enough to meet the loan demands of its members.

Githi Devi's daily income & expenses records

Githi was not sure whether her savings and share with the SACCO was safe or not. Being suspicious of the SACCO, she almost decided to withdraw her savings and share amount. But then Githi participated in a month-long financial literacy training implemented by Mercy Corps under the DFID-SAFAL project two months ago. She was impressed by the message and the knowledge she acquired through the financial literacy training. She even started cutting back on her smoking when she first started the course and has since been able to completely give up her years-long addiction by the end of the month-long training, once she realised how much money she could save by doing so. She increased her monthly savings from NPR 50 to NPR 100 and opened child savings accounts in the names of her two children. Building confidence that she could accomplish something bigger on her own, she borrowed NPR 5,000 from her SACCO and started a small grocery store in her home. Githi says, “This grocery store is now my priority and property.”

Learning from the financial literacy training, Githi started to record her income and expenditures in the copybook she got during the training. Her family members made fun of her, wondering what she was doing keeping records at this age when she’d never done anything like that in her life. But when she explained to them the monthly record of her income and expenditures and then the analysis of that to her family members and neighbours, it was a surprise to all of them -- including her. A major portion of the family income was being spent on unnecessary and avoidable expenditures, and they were able to make changes in those spending patterns and start to save even more of their income. Githi has now become a role model in her family and in her community, as well as becoming a businesswoman who is sensitive and responsive to sound money-management.

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