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Life becomes easy with Micro-Finance

Date : Jul 7, 2009
Life becomes easy with Micro-Finance
In Nepal Micro- Finance (MF) was traditionally considered as an agent of poverty reduction and development means. This is the reason behind wide ranges of emergence and flourishing of Micro-Financing mechanism in the country. The government's plan incorporated MF in Sixth Five-year plan (1980-1984). Consequently, this sector got momentum in last two decades when MF became vital part of development strategy of Non Government Organizations (NGOs). At present, both government and non government organizations practice MF in different ways; to ensure easy access of credit support to poor (particularly to women) and also to those that lack access to formal financial institutions.

Similarly, in community level Saving and Credit groups (S&C groups) have become vital in life of poor that wish to get involved in income generating activities. Realizing the importance of MF in the life of people living below poverty line, Lok Pathashala (LP), one of the components of JIWAN program implemented by Samaj Utthan Yuwa Kendra (SUYUK) in partnership of Care Nepal running successively over 9 VDC's of Dhanusha district since 2005 and in 16 VDCs from 2009 has integrated Saving and Credit in its activities. The basic concept behind it is to promote saving tendency in Poor and Dalit to meet their needs during crisis. Group members deposit 20-25 rupees every month. LP believes stable saving habit makes people self-reliant and in long run it liberates from dependency on donor.

LP operating VDC's have several examples of S&C groups changing life in rural community. One remarkable change was observed in Mushar community of Chandarpur village. Mushar, a so called lower caste whom a traditional caste based division of occupation has categorized as daily wages based labor. The perception is they only care to earn enough money to feed their family for a single day. They spent all the money earned after a long day work in the evening without showing concern to save for the following day. Generally, they don't own lands. So, let alone farming. Soon after LP formulated S&C group in Mushar community of Chandarpur, youths in the village began collective farming with the investment of amount received as credit support from S&C. Surprisingly, at the moment one can see bunches of garlic and onions fasten to the roof hanging on the Mushars' houses entrance. This is the indication of change in their attitude: increased concern of food security, habit of saving and storing, and inclination towards agriculture sector.

Not only in the case of Mushar community in a single village, in fact, S&C groups have supported many with potential to become entrepreneur by marketing their traditional skills. 

A Case Study on Saving and Credit: Mantutiya Devi  

Mantutiya Devi Mandal, of Thera Kachuri VDC is one of the beneficiaries of S&C groups formed by Lok Pathashala. Her heart touching story is worth mentioning here.  Mantutiya's story is the story of unlimited suffering, story of series of misfortunes in her life and also the story of her strong determination and tired less effort to over come every hindrance that came on her way.

Fate betrayed her when she was infant. she lost her parents. World seemed indifference towards her. No one was left behind to embrace that little life. Eventually, her aunt took responsibility to look after her but then too problems do not seem to shutout for her. Demand to earn for living turned this little girl into a child labor at the early age of five. She got married when she was just ten-years-old with Ram Briksh Mandal, a son of poor midwife.

Even after marriage situation remained invariable for poor and landless, Mantutiya. She could hardly mange to earn enough after a long tired some working day to feed family. Mantutiya joint Thera Lok Pathashala and showed her regular participation in Lokpathsala's sessions. There she used to take a corner seat so that her dirty, worn and stinking dress will not bother others. She had non stop coughing problem developed because of her chain smoking habit. The very thought that her continuous coughing could disturb fellow participants in the session, made her heart sink. But determined Mantutiya continued to attend every session and also became member of saving and credit group.

Her life changed after she took credit support of two-thousand rupees from S&C group and decided to capitalize her traditional skill of crafting bamboo into different shapes. Her husband's support in this work boosted her confidence. With the income from selling crafted bamboo containers and baskets she was able to pay for treatment of her husband's chronic disease. This occupation has provided good livelihood prospect for her. She has admitted her youngest son in school. Now life is no longer a series of misfortune for her. "It is true that success is inevitable, if one does not give up" says Mantutiya. Mantutiya efforts has set an example against a deep rooted notion held in society that women are best suited for household chores and they are not a bread winner for family.                                                                                                                                                                                     
- Neetu Dubey
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