Institute of micro-finance and cooperative development.

Learning from Lanka

A nine member team comprising Board of Directors from 2 FINGOs from Nepal, namely- Dhaulagiri Community Development Centre (DCRDC, Baglung) and Sreejana Community Development Centre (SCDC, Siraha) visited Sri Lanka from February 11-18, 2017 (Magh 29 to Falgun 7, 2073) on a study tour of MFIs. The team visited a total of 4 different institutions practicing microfinance in different locations of Sri Lanka,apart from getting acquainted with the overall development and present conditions of the sector in Sri Lanka from partner in Sri Lanka, the Lanka Microfinance Practioners' Association (LMFPA).

The team visited the beneficiaries and officials of SAP Sri in Anuradhapura, Lak Jaya in Dambulla, Gampola Prajashakthi in Gompola and Senkada Microcredit in Kandy. The visit provided the participants with the insight ofpoverty situation in Sri Lanka and acquainted them with the rural development approaches and strategies and poverty lleviation initiatives from non government sector. They also had the opportunity to observe and learn fromdifferent operational procedures of the successful NGOs and also share different experiences and visit success cases in the grassroots level.

The team led by Satish Shrestha, Director of CSD comprised of Mr. Ishwor Lal Rajbhandari (Chairman), Mr. Jiban Acharya (Vice Chairman), Mr. Bhimsen Pant, Mr. Pingal Raj Pant, Dr. Sudarshan Silwal, Mr. Krishna Raj Sharma (allboard members) from DCRDC and Mr. Raj Kumar Shrestha (Board Member) and Mr. Hari Bhuju Shrestha (Senior Manager) from SCDC.

After the visit during the experience sharing session at CSD's office which was presided by CSD's Chairman Mr. Shankar Man Shrestha and Executive Director Mr. Shanker Nath Kapali; the participants thanked CSD for excellentlycarrying out the visit as well as meeting all the objectives set for the visit.

During the session, Mr. Ishwor Lal Rajbhandari said "Interest rate in Sri Lanka is much higher than in Nepal butthe clients have no complain. It is the quality service that matters most to the clients than interest rate. There is no duplication of loan and services. What is most important in microfinance is effective supervision andmonitoring mechanism." He also added that key to success of microfinance in Sri Lanka is the fact that there is only one loan product in majority of MFIs compared to numerous products in Nepal. He vowed that he will ensure that clients in DCRDC would not be overburden with loans in the name of various loan products to a single borrower.

Mr. Hari Bhuju Shrestha from SCDC expressed said "My key learning from Sri Lanka is that the staff needs to be welltrained and rightly oriented to better serve the clients. They need to know the socio-economic conditions of the families and economic potentials well before providing a loan".

Similarly other participants also positively expressed their learning and observation of the visit. They commented on the warm and friendly hospitality which they found to be deeply ingrained in the social and cultural values ofSri Lankan people; simple living and high thinking nature of both clients as well as the staff of the MFIs they visited.

Addressing the participant during the session, chairman of CSD Mr. Shankar Man Shrestha said "clients are just like fruit plant saplings and MFI board members as Gardner must always be concerned with nurturing of clients to bearfruits, which is the essence of microfinance institution to achieve its objectives". He then advised the participants to limit the no of loan products to a few and take training expenses as investment to bear fruits inthe future and not as expenses that could be controlled.

The key takeaways for the visiting team was the awareness on how various issues pertaining to the poor in Sri Lankahad been successfully addressed through integration of microfinance and plus activities coupled with entrepreneurship and simplicity  amongst the community members for successfully in raising the quality of life. The wrap up meeting concluded with participants expressing willingness to enrich their knowledge on client discipline and behavior of microfinance staff s through trainings and other capacity building activities in their own institutions.