Sabhada Rana grew just enough rice, wheat, and corn with her husband in rural Kailali, Nepal to feed their son and daughter, but not enough to earn an income.
Sabhada wanted to start a small restaurant business, but didn’t have enough money saved to do so. She never went to school as a child, so she didn’t have basic numeracy skills to help her earn or save money. She couldn’t ask for a loan from a bank, because (like many rural villagers in Nepal) she didn’t have the required documents like a land title, or proof of citizenship.
In 2013, Sabhada heard about an agricultural program being offered at her local library, the Janachetana READ Center. The program, called Practical Answers, organizes farmers into groups and provides them with educational materials and trainings. Sabhada joined a group with nine other women, who started meeting once a week at the library.
Sabhada took trainings in vegetable farming, and started growing new crops. Since most of the women in her group were illiterate, a social mobilizer at the library helped them access audio and video resources related to farming and financial literacy.
The women then launched a savings and credit cooperative together at the library. They started collecting 50 rupees per month from each member. Once they saved up enough, members started taking out loans.
In April 2014, Sabhada took out a loan of 10,000 rupees to help her open a small restaurant. She prepares meals with vegetables from her garden: cabbage, tomatoes, chilies, onions, garlic, and more.
After just six months, her restaurant was so successful that she had paid back her loan, saved 50,000 rupees, and started making plans to expand her business.
“Without the library and the Practical Answers group, I could never have started this restaurant. My husband and I would still be struggling to feed our family.”