Women entrepreneurship, is an evolving concept in Nepal, and is visible both in urban and rural areas. It’s encouraging to note that women entrepreneurs are taking risks and starting their own enterprises in this state.
Access to finance is a persistent problem for Nepali women entrepreneurs. Inspite of some schemes that have been introduced to encourage women wanting to set up their own business, it remains a challenge to have access to easy and accessible funding.
Here’s highlighting some schemes and incentives provided by the state.
> Integrated Subsidised Loan Scheme
The Nepal government also introduced the Integrated Subsidised Loan Scheme to focus on the issue of easy access to finance. But addressing the need for additional specialised financial products to motivate women entrepreneurs, who aspire to step into their own business, still needs a push. On the other side, banks and financial institutions, along with the government, international organisations and civil societies, are taking inspiration from global financial models to create effective schemes for women entrepreneurs in Nepal.
Today, Nepali businesswomen benefit from government credit scheme – the interest- subsidized concessional credit scheme of the Nepali government, where women are getting loans. Under this scheme, a businesswoman can receive a maximum of 1.5 million Nepali rupees without collateral and a subsidy of 6 percent in the interest charged by the bank.
The Nepali Central Bank made it mandatory for a commercial bank to provide concessional loans to at least 500 borrowers, with each branch servicing an average of 10 borrowers. Besides woman entrepreneurs, anybody involved in commercial farming, the educated youth, migrant workers who shifted back, Dalit youths, and specially people affected by the 2015 earthquake, can get credits as well from the government scheme. And, Sanima Bank has offered loans to around 20 people, with businesswomen topping the list.
The concessional loans have helped women grow their businesses, though the COVID- 19 pandemic did prove to create problems.
> Women Entrepreneurship Development Fund (WEDF)
The Government of Nepal concentrates on initiating programmes like Women Entrepreneurship Development Fund (WEDF) – to help women entrepreneurs meet their financial need for their business growth.
WEDF is an initiation by Ministry of Industry (MOI) which offers collateral free loans (at six percent interest rate). The program began in the year 2015 (with the limitation up to five lakh rupees).The process is like this – women entrepreneurs submit applications along with their business plans at the district office of Department of Cottage and Small Industries (DCSI) which is forwarded to the centre office of DCSI at Kathmandu. After analysing the enterprise plan, and if it meets the conditions laid down under WomenEntrepreneurship Development Fund Procedural, 2065 applications can avail of the loan amount.
Thus, Women Entrepreneurship Development Fund Procedural supports the rights of women entrepreneurs. There are umbrella organizations too, who help out. Women entrepreneurs are recommended for loan by umbrella organizations like The National Micro Entrepreneurs Federation Nepal (NMEFN), Federation of Women Entrepreneurs Associations of Nepal (FWEAN), Federation of Nepalese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) and Federation of Nepal Cottage and small Industries (FNCSI).
> Women’s Empowerment Program
Why choose the Women’s Empowerment Program? How does it benefit women? The empowerment of women is critical for increasing the standard of living and prosperity at all levels – in local communities, regions and Nepal as a state. The Women’s Empowerment Program banks on the initiatives and focussed work of the Nepalese government and NGOs at a local level, to address the problems and adequately meet the needs of communities.