Journal of Microfinance / ESR Review


Pact's Women's Empowerment Program (WEP) in Nepal operated through 6,500 groups with 130,00 women members. These groups mobilized nearly $2,000,000 of assets in less than three years with 94% on loan to 45,000 group members. By mid 2001, WEP had as many outstanding loans as CARD in the Philippines and Compartamos in Mexico, two very well known "credit-led" microfi-nance institutions, while working through three times as many groups. In addition, 65,000 group members learned to read through Pact's innovative curriculum that focused exclusively on managing a group, starting a business, and women's empowerment. WEP was implemented by 240 partners (most of them local NGOs) who were responsible for recruiting the groups and monitoring their performance. Local partners were working with almost all of the 6,500 groups within 60 days of startup, showing how quickly NGOs with their detailed knowledge of local communities can build a program if provided good training and support. With the end of AID funding, the WEP team was withdrawn from the field in May 2001. Although there are few reports of groups failing, further investigation will be required to see if groups continue to operate on their own with only the support of the local partners.


Jeffrey Ashe is a Visiting Scholar at the Institute of Sustainable Development at Brandeis University.; Lisa Parrott is a Technical Advisor for Microfinance for Freedom from Hunger



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Journal of Microfinance

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