WACN: Women Awareness Center Nepal

Radha Paridal used a microloan to start a sewing business. Photo: Jan Stürmann

Radha Paridal used a microloan to start a sewing business. She is a member of a cooperative that encourages women to save their funds collectively and start income-generating projects. Photo: Jan Stürmann

WACN: Women’s Awareness Center Nepal

FOUNDED IN 1991 | IDEX PARTNER SINCE 2004 | www.wacn.org.np

**WACN is responding to the immediate and long-term needs of people following the April and May earthquakes. You can support their efforts through IDEX’s Nepal Recovery and Resilience Fund.** 

Founded in 1991, Women Awareness Center Nepal (WACN) empowers women throughout 5 districts of Nepal by starting savings and credit groups and cooperatives.

Today, there are over 42 cooperatives operating with 35,000 women members with a total of $4 million US in circulation. WACN’s work has changed the landscape of financial services for women.

Co-ops offer loans to members at a reasonable rate to encourage income-generating activities including raising livestock, starting microenterprises, and leasing land to grow crops. Loan money is also used towards children’s education, health care, and household needs.

WACN’s small self-help groups – providing women with the opportunity to earn and save – have grown into larger, thriving savings and credit cooperatives that are completely owned and operated by the community women themselves as shareholders.

WACN is now focusing on strengthening cooperative activities and building networks of cooperatives in order to scale up activities and impact. WACN has a highly effective model that is an alternative to the solely profit-focused microcredit activities mushrooming all over the world. It is fostering deep changes at individual, family and community level.

Watch their most recent video on their approach and accomplishments:

WACN is, in effect, building a local cooperative movement that is focused on effecting social change through economic empowerment.

And since most families support themselves through subsistence agriculture, WACN organizes sustainable agriculture workshops and establishes model farms to serve as examples for the rest of the community. Additionally, they offer key training to both men and women to address health and gender issues.

You can learn more about WACN in this short video about their work:

Read more about WACN on our blog.