Institute of micro-finance and cooperative development.

CSD Chairman Observes Field Activities of MFIs in Mid-Western Nepal

Microfinance is many times defined as door-to-door banking and their field staff as the barefoot bankers walking long distances on foot to provide services to those left out from the mainstream financial institutions.

Bearing this in mind and the integral role of activities conducted at the grassroots level, CSD team comprising of its Chairman Mr. Shankar Man Shrestha and senior officer Ms. Stephaniema Rana visited mid-western Nepal to observe the microfinance practices in the hill districts of Surkhet and Dailekh from October 1 – 5, 2016.

The field visit consisted of interactions with microfinance members, observations of center meetings and experience sharing with the branch staff, senior management and Board of Directors.

Enroute Birendranagar, Surkhet, an interaction with the microfinance members of Bauddha Grameen Multipurpose Cooperative Ltd. (BGMCL) was held in Babai, Bardiya. These women were mainly involved in agricultural practices as well as small business ventures and were empowered both financially and socially. In field visits and interactions he was accompanied by the Board Members Mr. Jawan Singh Budha and Mr. Singh Bahadur Gurung.

The center meeting of Pashupati Bauddha Mahila Bikas Kendra in Kholigaun was an example of how effective utilization of credit can go a long way in changing the lives of the poor. Interesting interaction with the group took place wherein the members shared their life changing experience after gaining access to credit and being a part of BGMCL. Some members complained that they have been time and again pressurized by new MFIs to join their groups promising bigger loan amounts. However, they said they denied their offers.

A household visit was made to the first MF member of BGMCL Ms. Chuiya Tharuni who along with her husband were successfully growing various organic vegetables in their plot of land.

The team also visited numerous branch offices of BGMCL in Chhinchu and Jharhare, Surkhet and of both BGMCL and Environment Development Multipurpose Cooperative Ltd. (EDCOL) in Dhungebas, Dailekh. Chairman, Mr. Shrestha interacted with the branch managers and staff and discussed the various challenges faced by them while working at the field level. He appreciated the branches for serving the deprived families living in the far-flung remote areas that required the staff to walk for 7-8 hours from the branch office. He motivated them by saying, “Healthy competition will keep you on your toes and make you alert. It will also induce you to come up with innovative and new ideas to deliver better services to the target group.” However, he cautioned them not to put the members into a loan trap by providing them excess credit beyond their need and capacity.

Mr. Shrestha also suggested to initiate a ‘Center Code of Conduct’ wherein the center-chiefs and members will have certain roles and responsibilities to abide by. Valuable feedback and suggestions were gathered from the field visit, which was later relayed to the management and Board officials in the head office.