English Cooperative Day | Hamro Patro

International day of cooperatives

Co-operatives for economic empowerment and gender equality in Nepal.

Cooperatives around the world are struggling with the adversities of Covid 19. Welcome to the International Day of Cooperatives, which is considered the basis of human-centered long-term development. Under the theme of "Rebuild better together", the International Day of cooperatives is being observed in 2021.

Mr. Dinesh Kafle is from Sunsari district of Nepal, he is a vegetable farmer and his investment is funded by a local co-operative. Without any collateral, the co-operative delivered him the loan which he pays every week in certain installments. His installment is his liability, his surplus is his saving and his revenue is his livelihood. Co-operative is a real sense of economic democracy, the democracy of accessing loans and paying in installments. Dinesh's life is change, he could access to loan and start his venture, he is self-employed and people like Dinesh are a crucial part of the cooperative movement.

Towards the end of the 19th century, Nepal's first cooperative model was introduced in the Terai villages of eastern Nepal under the leadership of Grameen Bikas Bank employees. In this regard, we discussed with Ms. Rukmini Acharya Pokhrel, the then leader of Grameen Bikas Bank, who worked for different branches of the bank. Rukmini now lives in Toronto, Canada, but her experience narrates the complete version of the cooperative movement and its initials in Nepal.

According to her, the access of rural people to financial services in Nepal was minimal. In this situation, the model of Gramin Bikas Bank proved to be a boon for increasing the access of rural women to financial services and providing loans without collaterals. These loans helped rural women to start and foster their businesses and not only empowered them but assisted in the comprehensive development of the entire region. In this way, loans were disbursed without collateral on the recommendation of the group by making a group of women in the villages and making them literate. There was a provision to pay weekly installments of loans taken for business, later the consumer committee and many cooperatives were established based on this model. A cooperative structure is very effective for developing countries. Thank you very much Rukmini ji, your contributions shall always be acknowledged.

 Co-operative is a movement, a movement of participatory progress upon economic empowerment, and every year on July 4th, the world community commemorates this day. This day is the marking of the first Saturday of July since 1923.

Since 1923, the International Cooperative Organization has been celebrating Cooperative Day in July every year. The United Nations has also adopted the day since 1995. In Nepal too, in the last two decades, there has been a growing trend of taking loans in installments, forming groups at the community level, and doing business, including cooperative or microfinance and credit flow without any collaterals. From small businessmen to big corporations, they are involved in saving a certain amount of money and borrowing a large amount of money by paying small installments regularly. Cooperative refers to financial services or assistance provided to individuals or community groups who are financially marginalized, low-income, and do not have access or have less access to other financial services.

The purpose of co-operative is insurance for savings, borrowing, and risk reduction. Compared to other financial transactions, cooperative loans can be relatively expensive as loans have to be disbursed at the community level and mostly without collaterals. Despite this, many small farmers or small traders are a part of co-operatives as the service is simple, easy, and provided in the community.

The initial credit for cooperatives or so-called microfinance in Nepal goes to the Rural Development Bank of Eastern Nepal (Gramin Bikash Bank), which has been delivering cooperative facilities in Eastern Nepal since the mid-1990s. This bank first created a women group, made them literate, and empower them enough to aspire for a loan with a specific purpose of doing a certain business.

 In Bangladesh, the financial services of this structure have been launched and were proven to be a milestone in economic upliftment. Bangladesh is considered a pioneer nation in establishing cooperative movements and later Nepal replicated the structure, as extensive assistance in community upliftment. There are many such cooperative services in South Asian countries like Nepal, Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan. Cooperatives have also proved to be a wonderful weapon for the upliftment and empowerment of women as women can get easy loans. Co-operatives are the catalyst for gender equality and economic empowerment. In the early days of Nepal's cooperative service, many cooperative operators were found to be cheating the public and misusing their savings. Now, Nepali cooperatives are becoming stronger and more transparent with the strict adherence to the deposit amount that is required to keep the cooperatives legally strong and open.

It is commendable that women's groups, local clubs, and other community groups have also developed as cooperatives, which are the basis of local development and economic companions of small entrepreneurs.

Nepal is a country of villages and the convoy of bullock carts, tractors, and bicycles that blow dust in the village guarantee development more than the raving cars running in the city.

The development of the village is the development of the country. The newly elected representatives of the local bodies should also help in maintaining transparency and good governance by promoting this structure of cooperatives at the local level. Happy Cooperative Day.

 Suyog Dhakal

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Hamro Patro is one of the first Nepali app to include Nepali Patro, launched in 2010. We started with a Nepali Calendar mobile app to help Nepalese living abroad stay in touch with Nepalese festivals and important dates in Nepali calendar year. Later on, to cater to the people who couldn’t type in Nepali using fonts like Preeti, Ganesh and even Nepali Unicode, we built nepali mobile keyboard called Hamro Nepali keyboard.