Founded in 1992 | Thousand Currents Partner since 2005
Nari Chetana Kendra
Changing the banking practices of a nation
Representing 42 cooperatives and over 45,000 women and children, Nari Chetana Kendra or ‘Women Awareness Center’ (WACN) has combined farming, economic development and gender justice to weave one of the strongest civil infrastructures in Nepal. Each collective is made up of smallholder farmers who use the food primarily for sustenance and secondarily for family income. Founded more than 25 years ago, WACN has one of the largest bases of organized farmers with combined assets totaling US $6.5 million.
WACN began as its own bank and soon realized that all banks have minimum standards which often leave out the poorest members of society. It refined its own model of microlending within its own network and found success in convincing women to leave banks and join their cooperatives, which resulted in fairer lending rates in many Nepal banks.
WACN’s economic work is just a fraction of its mission. In addition to its economic work, WACN is committed to sustainable agriculture, and the culture of collective power. Their members have protested violence against women and police misconduct, weighed into constitutional negotiations, supported members running for political offices, and worked to hold federal officials accountable.