Meet Kamala Manandhar (35), a mother of two, from the village of Panauti.
Like many women in rural Nepal, who never had the chance to finish their schooling, Kamala struggled to make ends meet to help support her family with the income she and her husband earned. Despite running a small grocery shop, and farming rice and potatoes, she had to take a loan of Rs. 500,000 (USD $7.7K). Still, she struggled to maximize the funds and make her payments on time.
Things took a turn for the better when she was approached to join the Indreshwor Technical Knowledge Service group organized by the Gyan Bikas READ Center’s Practical Answers Service program. Developed in partnership with the NGO, Practical Action, the program includes livelihood skills training which helps rural villagers pursue income-generating activities such as bee-keeping, mushroom farming, off-season vegetable farming.
At the Center, Kamala completed a 3-day training course on tomato farming and joined a savings cooperative, where she learned to better save and manage her money. She invested Rs. 100,000 (USD $1,000) of her loan on an initial tomato harvest and increased her income to Rs. 42,000 (USD $420) a month. Thanks to what she has learned from the savings cooperative, she is also able to save Rs. 8,500 (USD $85) monthly. Now, she can pay for her children’s school fees and her loan’s monthly interest. She was even able to shoulder her mother-in-law’s surgery fees. Looking forward, Kamala wants to buy more land for her tomatoes, and recently applied for a grant for local entrepreneurs.
“It is wonderful to know that READ's purpose is not only to cater to the needs of students but also for people of all age groups. The training provided by the center has helped change the lifestyle of all its participants. I wish all the best to the center. I will certainly contribute something for the progress of the library once I am financially secure”she says.
Originally piloted at four READ centers, the Practical Answers program is now serving hundreds of people like Kamala in 16 districts through 22 READ centers, and helping them develop the skills needed to generate income and break out of the cycle of poverty.