The Centre for Self-Help Development: A Nepalese Microfinance Success Story
Microfinance programs are helping reduce both urban and rural poverty across Nepal in what amounts to a micro-finance revolution.
One of the key groups at the forefront of this revolution is the Kathmandu-based Centre for Self-Help Development, a nonprofit organization running programmes in at least seven hill districts. Funded by the Asian Development Bank’s Rural Microfinance Project, it now has over 22,000 members, all poor women, in remote villages across the country.
37-year-old Mana Kumari Shrestha is one of the women who regularly borrows from the Centre. During an assembly of members, she is asked by a Centre coordinator why she needs more funds after having already borrowed NRs 18,000 (Nepalese rupees; equivalent to $286) previously; she explains that she needs to borrow NRs 4,000 ($63) to pay her children’s school fees. After a chorus of “yeahs” from the assembled members of the local group, the funds are approved.
The scene is typical of rural microcredit schemes that have sprung up all over the countryside in recent years, with women at the forefront and active group participation encouraged. Observers say they have been pivotal in empowering women and breaking down gender barriers in Nepal’s largely patriarchal rural society.