Women Awareness Centre Nepal has been working to establish cooperative networks in Nepal. Till date WACN has successfully established 41 micro credit organizations consisting of 30,000 women members. Currently 6 cooperatives are in operation in Chitwan and 2 in adjoining district Makwanpur.
In 2010 women's informal group from Piple village of Chitwan approached WACN seeking help to establish the group into a legal financial entity for economic and social empowerment of women. The women successfully registered the informal group as "Akaladevi Nari Chetna Savings and Credit cooperative" in 2011.
The Cooperative of Piple village currently has 300 women members. 52 children have also become members of the cooperative. The cooperative currently provides 10% interest on savings and charges 16% on loan. The women's groups have disbursed Rs. 436,000 in loans.
The cooperative management committee holds monthly meetings and interaction programs. Following trainings have been conducted so far:
Savings, Credit and Cooperative Training at Piple VDC
30 women with leadership qualities including the members from the management were provided training on savings and credit. The training focused on importance of group, importance of norms and values set by the group, things to be considered while forming the savings group, saving for retirement, methods to save,major features and provision of the cooperative act and organizational structure.
Cooperative Account Keeping Training at Piple VDC
2o individuals from Piple VDC were trained on basics of accounting. The training included journal entries, filling out invoice, pass book, share register, day book, loan sheet, personal savings register, assets and liability account, income and expenditure account, balance sheet and calculation of interest on savings and loan.
Training on Mushroom Cultivation and interaction
The cooperative women organized trainings on mushroom cultivation in coordination with the office of small cottage industry district office. 20 women have taken out loans for mushroom farming. The women's group also organized an interaction program to raise issues of violence against women by inviting various local politician and other prominent figures of the village.
WACN feels that these women require more training to successfully govern the organization on their own. We want to produce at least 30 experts from within the community to run the cooperatives so that they can further train other members. The demand for loan in this village is high on animal farming and agriculture. Trainings on mass production of vegetables and animal health is also necessary. Programs on human rights, basic literacy and violence against women are also needed.
The cooperative has one two female paid staff one makes $22.00 a month and another makes $11 per month. The rest of in the team are volunteers. We are understaffed and there is a need to recruit more people in management and increase the wages of the staff.
Case story of a Cooperative Member
Suntali Raila of Piple Ward shared no 5 shared her story with us. Sunita did not get an opportunity to go to school. She spent her life on house hold chores like carrying fire wood and taking care of livestock. She was always short on cash because she did not have a source of income. When she needed money, the only option was borrowing on high interest rate from the rich of the village. Being a widow she was always humiliated and has many bitter experiences while borrowing money. This made her realize that her own savings group was necessary to access money.
Case story of a cooperative member
Sudha Pathak, a 17 years old girl was involved in a road accident 11 years ago. She suffered severe injuries. Slowly she recovered and enrolled back in school but had difficulty learning. The accident affected her vision and memory. Her economic condition is bad. She currently lives with her parents, one sister and one brother. She has recently dropped out of school.
We requested Sudha to take part in the training. She was hesitant at first but agreed. At the end of the training she said that the training had opened her eyes. She realized the importance of saving. She became a member of the cooperative and saves a small amount. She felt welcome to the womens cooperative despite of her disabilities.
Recently, Prativa Subedi, founder of WACN - the organization carrying out this life-transforming- project - won a prestigious prize called Women's Creativity in Rural Life. Check out this great article about Prativa and the work YOU are supporting by supporting this project. This work is only happening because of dedicated leaders like Prativa and dedicated donors like you who believe that women can change the world. Thank you!
Growing up in a rural village surrounded by dense forests, Prativa Subedi (58) has devoted her life to raise the living standards of those in need. Creating the Women Awareness Centre Nepal (WACN) in 1990, Prativa works to empower rural women and gives women a sense of dignity for their lives.
Though many girls did not have the option to attend school, Prativa’s forward thinking father encouraged her to obtain an education, and she eventually got a Master’s degree in Economics. As her desire to help the poor intensified, Prativa challenged the traditional role as a woman in Nepal. She began to write, and published four books on the harsh reality for women in Nepal. The truth was exposed in order to raise awareness on gender and development issues.
Prativa’s creation of WACN provided the opportunity to create the change for women she always hoped for. Economic opportunities were created for thousands of women due to training and support in sustainable agricultural practices. Such ambition has led to the establishment of 41 women’s cooperatives, ranging from 200 to 1,200 women shareholders. As a result, 25,000 women have become members of informal savings and credit groups.
Prativa’s work has enabled rural women to become economically independent in a male-dominated society. Women have developed more confidence in their ability to become equal partners in development, enhancing the lives of the women and giving hope to young girls and all future women of the community. She continues to drive innovative mechanisms to help develop the socio-economic status for rural women, overcoming all odds that were put against her.
Your helpful assistance supports WACN's goal to enable women to solve their financial and social problems on their own. Through the Savings and Credit Program, the village women have learned how to become financially independent, gaining respect from their families and community members in the process.
Initially, WACN encouraged women to form savings and credit groups. Now women form groups on their own initiative registering them as cooperatives in order to be viewed as a legal entity. One of these women shares her story:
Banuhi Chaudhari’s story
Banuhi Chaudhari is a member of Bachhuli Nari Chetna Kendra Savings and Credit Cooperative in Chitwan. She had heard about a program for women but none of the women in her village were interested in taking part. In spite of this, she attended a workshop which explained more about the women’s group and how it could help her. This inspired her to form a savings and credit group in her own village. It was difficult for her to convince other women to take part but her enthusiasm paid off and she finally managed to form a group. Even then she faced many challenges. Opening a bank account took many days as she was illiterate and unaware of the process to follow. Furthermore, in the village there were rumors that women would not be allowed to keep the money and that it would be taken by the district office. Finally, in 1998, Banuhi registered hergroup as a cooperative.
The first loan Banuhi took out from her cooperative was to raise goats. After ten years and several loans, she was able to buy a piece of land and she uses this land as collateral whenever she wants to take out loans from the cooperative. Banuhi’s involvement in the cooperative has increased her self-confidence. She is now able to perform economic transactions, is confident in dealing with banks and officials, and is an executive member of the cooperative.
Banhui and many other countless women are able to achieve greater financial stability because of wonderful donorslike you. Thank you for contributing!
Women’s Awareness Centre Nepal (WACN) is a shining example of how rural women can transform themselves and their socio-economic status.
Since its inception, WACN's activities focus on creating a just and equal society for women by increasing their capacity in leadership roles within savings and credit cooperatives.
To date, WACN has established 41 small self-help groups that have grown into larger, thriving savings and credit cooperatives. Many are completely owned and operated by the women community members themselves. These rural cooperatives stress the importance of increasing knowledge and awareness of the concept of group saving; the need to develop regular savings; and to mobilize savings in the most effective and proper way. Cooperatives run by women in Nepal are more than just a bank; they address many social issues faced by rural women.
This year WACN has plans to extend its activities to the Chitwon District of Nepal and strengthen the newly registered cooperative of Jutpani and Padampur. Additioally, WACN has proposed to establish a network of women's cooperatives in the villages of Bachhauli, Kharaini and Pithua.
Notable also is the training and support cooperative members receive, upon establishment, in sustainable agricultural practices, such as organic farming, the use of natural composting and fertilizers, water catchment, environmental health and food security. Some women have even become model farmers and trainers in permaculture.
Your support to the women's cooperatives offer opportunities for growth through autonomy and independence.
The generosity of donors helps to make the following success stories possible. The recent one below is just one of many- thank you for your support!
Sharswat is a 33-year-old motivator of WACN and Manager of the "Shree Nari Chetna Milijuli Saving and Credit Cooperative" in Hatia, Makwanpur.
She was the eldest among four siblings and had to face many problems in her childhood due to their poor financial situation.The land her family owned was not sufficient to meet the needs to feed the family for an entire year so she started working when she was 10 years old. She started selling firewood, a tedious and difficult job as it was a two-hour walk to the nearest market.
At the age of 15, she got married. They had sufficient land but without working on the land it was difficult to survive. So she, along with her husband and in-laws worked in the fields.
Today she has 3 children: two sons and one daughter. Her mother in law is very supportive and allows her to look after her children and work at the same time.
Even though her financial condition was not the greatest, she always thought of doing something for her society and becoming a leader. This dream turned into reality when she joined local social organization where she started as a treasurer of the organization even though she did not know the responsibilities of the treasurer. When WACN approached her, she started organizing informal groups in her area.
Her economic condition improved by mobilizing savings and credit through cooperatives. She took out a loan several times for her children's education. She was also able to buy a piece of land.
At the initial stage she took Rs.1,500/USD$21.33 and Rs.3,000/USD$43 for admitting her children in the boarding school and at present she has taken Rs.60, 000/USD$853 from the cooperative to buy land.
She has participated in the training on incense making, institutional development, saving, credit, cooperative education, account keeping, cooperative visioning and management, business plan, leadership development, provision on women's legal right, sustainable agriculture, gender and governance trainings provided by WACN.
She has also participated in the 'train the trainer' training provided by District Cooperative Office of Makwanpur. After going through the training programs, she is qualified to train other members of the cooperatives on agriculture and cooperative education.
Sharswati says that working with the community is not easy. There are different people with different thoughts, some are supportive and some are not. At this point she has gained confidence and can proudly walk in the village without feeling inferior for being a woman.
In the past she had to beg for 10 rupees but today she has access to 100,000/USD$1,422 through the cooperative. She is taking loans and paying back with the income earned from the cooperative.
In her words: "I am capable to look after my children and my home even if no one supports me because I have regular income. I am free to travel and attend different programs inside and outside the district and my childhood dream has come true with the help of the cooperative"
Thank you for your support. You are making a positive impact for women in Nepal!
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