Khurki Devi Bista is the female leader of a small group of 14 women who are all share-holders of the “Kothbairab Sana Kisan Cooperative” in Bajhang.
The cooperative was established in 2015 with 28 members. RVWRMP started to support the Cooperative with specialized Cooperative trainings. The number of shareholders has now increased to 168; this includes 149 women and almost 30% of the share-holders are Dalits, members of the lowest caste in Nepalese society.
When RVWRMP decided to support the Cooperative it was not active and there were few systems in place to run the Cooperative effectively. Project staff conducted two intensive training cycles on Cooperative Management, Accounting and Loan and Office Management followed-up by regular visits from project staff.
In the initial stage the Cooperative is working out of a room provided by RVWRMP but soon will move into another location provided by the newly established Rural Municipality.
Savings give security for future
Now Ms. Devi Bista has collected money from the members of her small group and for the first time in their lives they have put this in a savings account with the Cooperative. Here it will grow at an annual rate of 12% and they intend to deposit some money at regular times, as much as they can spare.
She is 52 years old, she is a widow and lives together with her son and daughter-in-law. She mentions that the savings she makes are meant to “help me in times of urgent need and to use when I am getting older”.
Besides saving money, the share-holders also have the opportunity to borrow money from the Cooperative and at present 33 separate small loans have been disbursed with a total of NRp. 651,000/- or about Euro 5,900. These small loans are mainly being used for house construction, educational purposes, agriculture investments, medical emergencies and to invest in small businesses such as shops and therefore directly increase the welfare of the entire community.
Once the Cooperative is fully functional and sustainable, normal after 3 years, it can diverse its activities in operating small enterprises such as opening an agro-vet shop, small scale agro-processing or even operate a collection center and transport for their members to purchase and sell agriculture produce, thereby cutting out the middle-men.
For the moment the start for this Cooperative is very promising or as one of the members said : “This Cooperative gives us a purpose in life and shows us that we can save money and in time of need we can borrow money to send our children for a better education. It also makes me feel respected when I am a share-holder and can attend meetings and voice my opinions”