Chhimek Laghubitta Bikash Bank Ltd (CLBBL) is piloting digitization of its distribution network with support from Sakchyam/UKAid in 5 districts of western Nepal. The piloting entails online and real-time recording of transaction details by channel partners appointed to distribute products and services in the rural areas. The channel partners are deployed locally away from the traditional service areas of the bank branches. Local women have been recruited, trained and deployed as channel partners. These channel partners get work opportunity locally without hampering their daily lifestyle.
The following sections present the case study of three digital channel partners (Laxmi Devi Debua, Radha Devi Saud and Tika Kunwar) and selected women entrepreneurs that are served by the digital channel partners.
The Digital Channel Partners
Laxmi Devi Deuba
Laxmi Devi was born in 1994 in Dadeldhura district in a poor family. Along with her 5 siblings, she was forced to support her parents from her childhood. She dropped-out of school after grade 7 and went to nearby town in Kailali to learn knitting and sewing. Immediately after completing her training, she got married to Ramesh Debua of Mastamandu VDC in Dadeldhura. Laxmi’s journey to poverty continued in her marriage life also.
Ramesh was poor with less than 1 ropani of arable land. He earned his living as seasonal migrant labor in India. Laxmi decided to support her family by utilizing the sewing and knitting skill she recently learned. But her husband disapproved her idea. He told Laxmi that sewing and knitting is an occupation of Dalits not Thakuris like them.
As the time passed, she became homemaker looking after her two children and elderly mother-in-law. The passing years did not bring improvement in the economic situation of Laxmi’s family. Her husband disappeared in 2071 adding to her mental and economic woes.
Meanwhile in 2072 Chhimek Laghubitta Bikash Bank opened its digital point in the area near to Laxmi’s home in Mastamandu VDC. She was chosen to work with the bank as digital channel partner. However, her ability to work for the bank and use tablet to record transaction details was questioned by few of her neighbors. They thought that desolate woman like her who have not even completed the School Leaving Certificate (SLC) examination would not be able to fulfill the roles effectively.
Laxmi almost gave up. The bank employee’s motivation and their trust on her ability helped to regain her self confidence to join the bank as digital channel partner. She also underwent trainings for four times on different aspects of microfinance banking and use of tablets. As a result, she is able to perform the banking work in laptop and tablet.
Laxmi has never looked back since then. With steady income as channel partner, she has been able to pay the loan which her husband borrowed to build their house. She sends her daughters to school and pay for the medical expenses of her mother-in-law. The respect given by the society as a result of her association with CLBBL has bolstered her self-confidence.