Meet Apsara Timalsina, Centre Chief
You may have seen the lovely face of Apsara on many of our Christmas communications and graphics. We thought it was about time to share her story! Read the whole article for a video at the end…
Apsara (34) of Nepal is the mother of two. Her husband, Ramesh, is a teacher at the local high school. They are financially secure, and have a comfortable home which easily accommodates them and their two children, Nishma (14) and Nishchal (10). Apsara is the “centre chief” for her borrowing group, and has earned the respect of the other women for her success in business.
But her wasn’t always like this. A few years ago, Apsara was too shy to get to know her neighbours well, and was embarrassed because her family had so little. Even though her husband had a steady job, his meagre salary just couldn’t cover all of the household expenses. With two growing children and day-to-day costs that weren’t being met, she was looking for another way to provide for her family. They were so anxious about money that taking the children out of school seemed the only option. Apsara and Ramesh looked into borrowing from a moneylender, but were worried and discouraged by high interest rates.
Then two things happened that turned everything around for the family, and especially Apsara. She received a micro-loan from Good Return to purchase a sewing machine. The sturdy, black machine in Apsara’s deft hands meant that business was soon thriving. From her tailoring business, Apsara saved enough money to repay her loan and apply for an even bigger one – this time to start a small grocery shop.
Her village’s need of small commodities – and her knowledge of which ones to trade – have made Apsara’s grocery quite successful. It was recently valued at $2,700 AUD, an impressive achievement for any business owner! She recently took out another loan through Good Return to purchase more supplies for her tailoring shop, so both businesses are thriving. She proudly told us that she can now meet her family’s each and every necessity!
Apsara participated in educational classes provided by Good Return. She said that the most useful classes were about business planning, bookkeeping, marketing, and keeping a clean environment for customers. She enjoyed the opportunity to speak frankly with other women in her village about business and money management.
She became very serious when we asked what life would have been like without her first microfinance loan. “We were in a very low position financially. It was such a problem to just pay the school fees. We may not have even had a proper home.”
Now, that home is not only secure, but receiving upgrades, too. Apsara recently installed a solar home system, giving her family affordable light year-round. Families in Nepal usually use kerosene to light their houses, as grid electricity is unreliable and very expensive. With solar, there will be no more indoor pollution, and the light is much brighter, making reading and studying much easier for her children!
Apsara’s relaxed smile in these photos is a testament to how things have turned around for her family, and all because of an affordable microfinance loan. There have been so many benefits, she said: “It provides both name and fame in the community. It provides not only the prestige but also the income to promote my family economically. Now there is no problem to uplift my family. I can even help other families when they have problems.”
Check out this video which was taken by Monique, our Sustainable Energy Field Coordinator, last time she was in Nepal. You can see first-hand what Apsara's grocery shop looks like!
Help a family like Apsara's — microfinance makes a difference.