By Abhinab Basnyat, KF 16, Nepal
I had always been fascinated by the textbook stories in micro-finance: loans to buy cattle or to start a small tea-shop that supported income generating activities and had a tangible impact on people’s lives. When I met Kiva borrowers, Narayan Devi and Binu, and heard their stories I suddenly had the visceral confirmation that had been amiss in textbooks. Yes, micro-finance loans played an influential role to uplift livelihoods. But more importantly, it was the borrowers’ multi-faceted entrepreneurship that magnified the impact of micro-finance.
A Kiva loan helped Naryan Devi, a mother of two, buy supplies for her store, which she runs with her husband. Her small shop while profitable to repay her loans is not enough to sustain her family and send her children to school. Narayan Devi is a multi-faceted entrepreneur who is always looking to learn new skills and apply her business acumen to new opportunities.
Two years ago Narayan Devi took a training on making a traditional Nepal sweet – pustakari that is made up of khoa (a cheese like milk based product), peanut powder, sugar.
She spent her spare time during the past six months experimenting and perfecting the sweet making process. For the last two months she has been producing batches enough to sell in her shop and the surrounding area. Sale of pustakaris have supplemented Narayan Devi’s income.
Unfortunately, some of the major sweet producers in the the Nepali were recently found to be producing sub-standard pustakaris. This resulted in an overall drop in demand for these sweets. In response, farmers in the upstream market have stopped converting their milk to khoa – an essential ingredient in the sweet making process. Since, Narayan Devi caters to her local market people still trust and purchase her sweets; however, she is facing difficulty in procuring the raw materials. Narayan Devi is hopeful that her small home enterprise will not be shuttered, and consumers will continue to love the traditional Nepali sweet.
As a multi-faceted entrepreneur, along with her shop and sweet making enterprise, Narayan Devi is an experienced carpet weaver. She learned this craft as a kid working during the school holidays, and occasionally takes on weaving projects for extra income.
Abhinab Basnyat is currently serving as a Kiva Fellow in Nepal with BPW-Patan. To learn more about BPW-Patan go to their Field Partner Page on the Kiva website. Check out the BPW Patan Lending Team and consider making a loan to a woman entrepreneur from Nepal.