Micro Enterprise Development program, Surkhet
This project has been running with the partnership of MEDEP and Nepal Government since 2012 with Aawaaj in Surkhet Midwest Nepal. Main objectives of program are;
- To increase number of micro-enterprises being operated by members of poor and excluded groups, with a specific focus on women, Dalit, Janajati and disadvantaged indigenous nationalities in a working district..
- To develop knowledge, skills and capacity of micro entrepreneurs,
- To create more conducive and gender-equitable business environment for micro-entrepreneurs focused on forestry, agriculture and livestock.
So far every year under this project 555 marginalizes women, Dalit, Janajti and youth benefited from different training. The entrepreneurs are given exposure visit, technical support and skills build on. 80% are succeeding to establish small enterprise business and have earning 10000- 15000 per month.
The program’s activities had a direct economic impact; firstly on the target beneficiaries and secondly on the local economies in the ten implementing districts during phase I. Even though the impact was directly related to economic and income generation, there was a chain effect which rippled down to each member of a family supported by MEDEP. The chain effect of the economic impact was such that economic aspect was overshadowed by the improvement in the living standards of the beneficiaries in terms of meeting basic social development indictors as a result of the impact on people’s income. The program hopes that impact of the program on the lives of poor people will help policy-makers understand the role, contribution and importance of the micro-enterprise sector in reducing poverty in Nepal.
Increased Family Income
One important purpose of MEDEP was to significantly increase the income of the poor people. As one indicator of success regarding incomes, MEDEP has compared the participating entrepreneur’s family per capita income before MEDEP with the net income (revenues minus all non-family-labour costs) of the resultant micro-enterprise (not including any other income that the family may still be earning). The average MEDEP micro-enterprise then provided 56% more per capita family income than the family was receiving before MEDEP. The percentage increase in family incomes is similar for Dalits, Indigenous Nationalities, and ultra-poor; however their enterprises are smaller than those of other MEDEP entrepreneurs.
Interestingly, the socially excluded Dalit and Indigenous Nationalities have performed well in terms of the increase in family incomes as a result of their participation in MEDEP. On average, they start from a smaller base salary, resulting in larger increases percentage-wise. Nonetheless, such rapid increases in family income among the very poor and disadvantaged can often have very significant impacts on their lives.
Although the average increase in family per capita income is 56%, it is important to note the differences. The following situations appear to affect performance. The percentages of entrepreneurs experiencing higher increases in income were greater among the Phase 1 entrepreneurs than with the Phase II and Phase III entrepreneurs who have only recently begun their enterprises.
Impact on Women’s Position
Women entrepreneurs report that they have been able to raise their status and identity inside and outside their household, and strengthen their role is household decision-making. The majority of the women entrepreneurs interviewed stated that their income generally goes for better food, clothing, education for their children and other household expenses including their children’s marriage. Despite the program target to have 70% women participation, women lagged behind their male entrepreneurs in their rate of family income growth (average increase 48%). This could be attributed to a large number of part-time enterprises managed by women. However, the fact that a greater percentage of women recently begun new entrepreneurs, and because women faced more problems than men in travelling during conflict situations.
A small in number but highly successful women entrepreneurs are the single women, either widow or abandoned by their husbands. They have scaled up their enterprises, constructed houses, provided education to their children. Women who have had low self-esteem have become economically empowered, are at decision-making, have a higher standing in the community and a sense of solidarity. A large number of the women are operating home-based enterprises in a slow but continued mode due to their family responsibilities.
The MEDEP integrated approach, combining entrepreneurship training, technical skills training, micro-finance access, market linkages, and considerable on-going advice and encouragement to new entrepreneurs have significant upfront costs. However, MEDEP’s reliance on Enterprise Development Facilitators who are locally resident, its consolidation of some management functions, and other cost-efficient strategies helps minimize the expenses, even for a complex project. Most important is that the costs are offset by the low drop-out rate among MEDEP entrepreneurs that results in a relatively low “unit” cost.