Case Study

Women Ending Poverty: The WORTH Program in Nepal - Empowerment through Literacy, Banking and Business 1999-2007

Assessing a program that combines business, banking and literacy
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This paper determines if any of the 1,500 village banks (VBs), created by WORTH, still exist in Nepal, despite the civil war and the collapse of national governance. WORTH is a women's empowerment program that combines business, banking and literacy. It helps women become social activists, social entrepreneurs and effective leaders who bring about change in their communities. Pact implemented the WORTH program in Nepal between 1999 and 2001, reaching 125,000 women in 6,000 economic groups across Nepal. Approximately 1,500 of these groups, with 35,000 members, received additional training to become informal-sector VBs. Study findings include:

  • VBs current average total assets are more than three times its holdings in 2001;
  • Most of the original 1,536 VBs are still active, eight and a half years after the program began;
  • Existing groups helped start an estimated 425 new groups, without external support or prompting by WORTH;
  • WORTH has helped women educate their children, and gain access to health and freedom from domestic violence. 

WORTH has increased women's self-confidence, and has helped them become leaders in their families and communities, while bringing development and social transformation to their communities.

About this Publication

By Mayoux, L. & Valley Research Group