Australia to finance new micro-enterprises

Kathmandu, October 20:

With a view to improve the living standard of poor people in Nepal, UNDP and Australia have signed an ‘agreement’ at UN house today.

As per a press statement, 6,000 people in poverty stand to benefit from a new agreement signed between UNDP and AusAid. Under the new agreement, Australia will contribute $56,000 towards the micro enterprise development programme, which seeks to help the very poor improve their incomes by starting and managing their own businesses.

The programme, a joint initiative between the government of Nepal and UNDP, and funded by DFID and NZAID, has helped 84,000 people in 20 districts improve their incomes through enterprises since 1998, says UN’s statement.

The new Australian contribution will be used to assist people in Sindhupalchowk and Kavrepalanchowk district, where under a previous programme, Australia helped communities to form community user groups, which now successfully manage plantations covering almost 42,000 hectares of woodland.

“The micro-enterprise programme will assist these users groups to improve their members’ livelihoods by promoting forest-based enterprises.”

UNDP resident representative Matthew Kahane said, “The best way to help people out of poverty and exclusion is by creating opportunities, especially employment opportunities, which are very limited in many parts of rural Nepal.”

Similarly, AusAid’s deputy director general Murray Proctor said that AusAid sees its contribution to the micro-enterprise development programme as building on Australia’s four decades of assistance to Nepal’s forestry sector.

In Sindhupalchowk and Kavre, the micro-enterprise development programme will initially assess local skills, resources and market potential. Once this is a complete, potential entrepreneurs, largely belonging to the very poor and marginalised groups, will be linked with banks, training opportunities and eventually markets.