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HE Ms Susan Grace and Ms Shoko Noda visit MEDEP working districts

Lalitpur 22 April 2012 - Her Excellency Australian Ambassador to Nepal Ms Susan Grace, and Country Director of UNDP Nepal Ms Shoko Noda visited various programme districts of Micro-Enterprise Development Programme (MEDEP) from 17 to 21 April 2012. While Country Director Ms Shoko Noda visited Terhathum, Dharan, and Sunsari, Her Excellency Ms Susan Grace visited Terhathum, Dhankuta, Dharan, Udayapur, Siraha and Janakpur districts. Ms Nabina Shrestha, Programme Officer of UNDP and Dr Lakshman Pun, National Programme Manager of MEDEP also accompanied the dignitaries.

Her Excellency, and the Country Director observed a mini exhibition organized by the micro-entrepreneurs at Terhathum with keen interest, interacted with the participating entrepreneurs and also bought some Dhaka products on 17, the first day of their tour. Earlier, they met with the Chief District Officer (CDO), Local Development Officer (LDO) and Head of the District Police Office and interacted with them. After the observation of the mini expo, Her Excellency and the team members also visited individual Dhaka entrepreneurs in Myanglung, the district headquarters of Terhathum and interacted with them.

On 18th, the team went to Dhankuta and met with the CDO, LDO and Head of the District Police Office and interacted with them. Later the same day, Her Excellency inaugurated a training of local journalists and visited biogas project in Dharan, Sunsari district. Ms Shoko Noda returned Kathmandu on 19 after observing Community Drinking Water and Community Bio-Gas Project of Public-Private Partnership for Urban Environmental (PPUE) Services of the UNDP at Dharan. Her Excellency visited Bokse and Jogidaha and observed blacksmithery, furniture, and incense stick enterprises in Udayapur district. She also interacted with the CDO, LDO and journalists there.

Her Excellency Ms Susan Grace, in white Kurta with a printed shawl leans forward to observe the Laha bangle making process at Paudeshwar village development Committee in Dhanusha district

The team visited Riverbed Farming at Chiknaha and Bhokraha in Siraha district on 20th. Upon observing the farm and interacting with the micro-entrepreneurs, Her Excellency said, "This is an excellent work. Poor people are making money from waste land." She also visited the Laha bangle entrepreneurs and appreciated the improvement in the quality of Laha bangle of Paudeshwar, Dhanusha and suggested preparing a product catalogue to promote those products at home and abroad.

Then Her Excellency visited Janakpur Women Development Centre (JWDC), Janakpur and interacted with the women entrepreneurs about the progress of the Centre and observed the activities. Australian Embassy has long been supporting the Centre and currently MEDEP is providing management support for organization development and capacity building of the Centre for its smooth operation and sustainability. Later, she interacted with the CDO, LDO, chief of police of Dhanusha at the CDO office, Janakpur.

On the last day of the tour, the team visited Paudeshwar VDC of Dhanusha district and observed the activities of micro-entrepreneurs groups. The team interacted with the Jaya Shree Shiva Shakti Tent Laghu Uddhyami Samuha, Ma Janaki Lgahu Uddhyami Samuha, and Shree Laxmi Laghu Uddhyami Samuha (Laha bangle groups).

During the interaction, the group of Tent shared their business’s current status and how they came out of armed groups and became entrepreneurs following MEDEP intervention. They explained how MEDEP brought about a sea change in their lives and transformed them into entrepreneurs.

They started their business with Rs 50,000 (US$ 605) out of which MEDEP supported Rs 30,000 (US$ 359). Now their transaction hovers around Rs 350,000 a year and six people are employed in the business. In the group, all 7 members are youth. The demand of tent service is very high and they are busy to cater the local needs at present but have planned to expand their service area to Janakpur as well. Micro-Enterprise Specialists of MEDEP Mr Rajan KC and Sabita Koirala also accompanied Her Excellency during the visit.

A total of 8,165 people living below the poverty line have been supported by MEDEP till March 2012 for enterprise development activities in Terhathum, Sunsari, Saptari, Udayapur, Siraha and Dhanusha districts and about 10,000 people including owner of enterprises have got employment opportunities. Majority of people (32%) are engaged in agriculture-based enterprise followed by artisan 27%, trade 16%, forest-based 13%, service-based 5%, and food-based 4% and other 3%. Out of the total entrepreneurs 65% are women.

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