Women-led cooperative transforms Goma’s life

Ms Goma Timalsina, resident in Bagmati Rural Municipality Ward No. 3, Bhattedanda of Lalitpur district in Nepal, observes her vegetable farm.

Women-led cooperative transforms Goma’s life

Kathmandu, 29 June 2018 - Ms Goma Timalsina, 53, resident in Bagmati Rural Municipality Ward No. 3, Bhattedanda of Lalitpur district in Nepal, lives a dignified life, thanks to her membership of and active participation in a women-led local cooperative in her village.

If her capacity to educate her children, construct a good house, and access to financial resources are any indication of wellbeing, she has metamorphosed into an economically empowered woman. A woman from a poor family who had to struggle for two meals a day a decade and a half ago, has now risen to a known person in the society.

Her perseverance to ameliorate her economic condition, thereby improving the overall family condition has lent her the self-confidence to manage not only her family, but also to support fellow women. Within a span of a little over a decade, Goma has sloughed off penury.

When she was poor and had no idea about social organizations, forget about being the member of a cooperative, her neighbours used to discriminate against her. She felt helpless and frustrated. She had to shoulder the responsibility of maintaining her family solely. Her husband was uncooperative. She could not provide good education to her children. This worried her a lot.

The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) Nepal provided her Rs 20,000 in 2017 through Integrated Community Development Organization (ICDO), an implementing partner, to promote Sustainable Integrated Farming System, livestock and honey. She was also trained in commercial vegetable farming and given continuous technical support. She also took a loan of Rs 10,000 for goat farming and Rs 50,000 for livestock from Shree Satkanya Mahila Jagriti Cooperative in 2016.  

A member of local women’s group, she also became a member of a cooperative established by poor women. With the support and the loan, she increased her goats from 3 to 15. With the income from goat farming, she started seasonal vegetable farming.  She still grows vegetables. She now has 2 buffaloes, 5 beehives, and 5 goats. She sells vegetables, honey, milk and goats in the local market.

She has constructed a house and utilizes her income in health, education. She has a saving of Rs 150,000 in the cooperative. Her monthly average income is Rs 20,000.  She says, “The cooperative has transformed my life.  I want the cooperative to support other poor women so that they can also improve their living condition. I would like to thank LWF Nepal and ICDO for their invaluable support.”

Now she saves Rs 900 a month. Besides her regular saving, her engagement with the cooperative has boosted her confidence. Now she is ready to take a loan of Rs 1, 00,000 to expand for her agri-business. It is Goma, who solely manages her entire household expenses. She wants to increase her beehives and expand commercial vegetable farming and goat raising for gainful income with a view to rendering her livelihood options resilient.

Dr Prabin Manandhar, Country Director of LWF Nepal, said, “Empowering the poor and oppressed people particularly women economically is one of our priority areas. The support to establish and operate cooperatives mostly led by women has brought about phenomenal changes in the lives of the our rights holders.”

LWF Nepal has been working with the poor and marginalized communities since 1984. One of the areas of success of the organization is supporting the poor particularly Dalits, ex-bonded labors (freed Haliyas and former Kamaiyas) people with disabilities, indigenous people, and single women to establish and graduate cooperatives.

Till date LWF Nepal has supported to set up and operate 46 cooperatives mostly women-led across its working areas. There are 11,183 shareholding members including over 70% female. These members have saved Rs 86,583,594 and mobilized Rs 77,673,135 in productive sectors such as agriculture, livestock, grocery, micro-enterprises, emergency expenses, education, health and shelter reconstruction.

 Text: Ram Sharan Sedhai and Hukum Sarki

 Photo: Santosh KC, ICDO