Ex-Kamlaris building ‘a better world’

  • The needy Kamlaris can now avail loans worth Rs 10,000 to Rs 300,000 once their business plan is approved
- DURGALAL KC, Dang
Ex-Kamlaris building ‘a better world’

Dec 27, 2014-

The emancipated Kamlaris (bonded women laboures) have been engaged in a cooperative campaign in western Terai, helping uplift their living standards.

There was a time when debt-ridden people from Tharu communities used to send their daughters to work years in end for the rich and live hand to mouth.  

With the number of cooperatives being opened by the ex-Kamlaris growing in the region, more people are availing loans at much cheaper interest.

According to Emancipated Kamalari Development Forum—a non-government organisation, the former Kamlaris have opened 42 cooperatives in the region. Kailali tops the list with 12 such cooperatives, followed by Bardiya (11), Dang (eight), Kanchanpur (six) and Banke (five).

With a cumulative 3,485 members, these cooperatives have a total capital of Rs 11.75 million. Emancipated Kamlaris have deposited a total of Rs 5.36 million, while Nepal Youth Foundation—another non-government organisation—has provided Rs 6.39 million in revolving fund. These cooperatives have lent a total of Rs2.87 million to 748 emancipated Kamlaris engaged in activities such as pig keeping, vegetable farming, grocery stores, hardware shops and sewing, among others.

After emancipation they were put through various skill training, but the lack of funds meant they could not start any businesses.

To overcome this problem, the ex-Kamlaris opened their first cooperative named Lawajuni Saving and Credit Cooperative under the stewardship of Man Bahadur Chhetri on September 23, 2008.  

“As the ex-Kamlaris didn’t have means to pursue higher studies, a cooperative was the best option available to them,” said Chhetri.

Soon after the cooperation came into being, he explained, it received a huge demand for loans.

That led to the openings of more cooperatives. The needy Kamlaris can now avail loans worth Rs 10,000 to Rs 300,000 once their business plan is approved.

Manjita Chaudhary,

founding chairperson of Lawajuni Cooperative, said that they decided to open a cooperative once she  came to learn that she had to work as Kamalari after her parents could not pay the loans taken out from the Agriculture Development Bank.

She was at grade nine at the time. She used to manage the cooperative before and after school hour.

“I saw one family sending five daughters to work as Kamalari after failing to pay the loan of Rs 5,000,” she said. “Due to high interest, the total debt had spiralled to Rs 50,000.”

Having increased its resource in Mehandi farming, the members of her cooperative have since expanded the operations in Deukhuri, Dang.  Lawajuni’s annual transactions now total Rs 2.2 million. Chaudhary is planning to develop the cooperative into a C class finance company within the next six years.  “I have a plan to manage a bigger finance company. I have been studying management at college,” she said.

They have also opened ‘Kamalari Welfare Fund’ to extend help to the needy ex-Kamlaris. According to Chaudhary, the fund already has collected more than Rs 500,000 in deposits.

Young ex-Kamlaris have also been providing consultation to the borrowers. Jugina Chaudhary, 21, from Sukhad of Darak-5, Kailali is studying ways to facilitate the entrepreneurs. She chairs Ojarar Dugger Cooperative.

“People usually have confusion about the use of credit. I guide them, providing business plans on utilising the funds,” she said.

A 15-month Enterprise Development Facilitation course has proved a great tool for Jugina in preparing business plans. And she now puts her skills to good use. “We also discuss about business plans in the cooperative meetings,” she explains.

She has also started

vegetable farming with a loan taken out from the cooperative. She sells vegetables worth more than Rs 2,000 a day. Jugina, who had worked as Kamalari for five years, is now the cooperative’s lead campaigner.

Mina Chaudhary, a native Chakhkhapur of Rajapur-9, Bardiya said that the

cooperative helped her to be self-reliant. She has opened a grocery and meat shop with Rs 35,000 she borrowed from a cooperative.

 

Published: 28-12-2014 10:34

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