Women’s Awareness Center Nepal
Located in Nepal - Founded in 1991 - IDEX partner since 2004
Photo: Jan Stürmann
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 40 cooperatives operating with 25,000 women members with a total of $3 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.
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 on the IDEX blog and in this short video about their work:
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