Prakash Koirala is the founder and director of Finlit Nepal Pvt Ltd – an organization under Nepal Prosperity Institute, a think tank based in Kathmandu – which provides financial literacy to the school students and communities. Koirala, who founded Finlit back in 2015, has provided financial literacy training to more than 45,000 people of 43 districts. For his contribution in the field of financial literacy, Koirala was also awarded with ‘Financial Education Awareness Award’ by Child and Youth Finance International of Netherlands at House of Lords of British Parliament in 2015. Ashim Neupane of Republica caught up with Koirala to know more about Finlit Nepal, situation of financial literacy in Nepal, among other issues. Excerpts:
What triggered you to start financial literacy programs? Why does it matter in Nepal?
Back in 2010, when I was at my village in Dolakha I saw disputes between family members in every community I travelled. Later when I asked a kid about the dispute between his family members, he answered that problem was raised due to their financial situation. He also said that his family has to pay huge amount of interest rate for the loan taken from the money lenders. I found that overspending, no saving habit, lack of knowledge about banks and financial institutions (BFIs) has brought them into serious trouble. This incident pulled me to provide financial literacy and I started to train school children and communities on how to manage money, start saving, control overspending, among others. It matters most in Nepal as people in rural area don’t have simple knowledge on how BFI works and the benefits of being financially literate.
How has been the journey so far?
Well the journey so far has been full of ups and downs. I started providing financial literacy program since 2012 and till date I have already trained more than 45,000 students, parents and children. I was about to quit providing financial program in 2015 as there was no one to help and financially support me. I was training students and communities on my own. I used to conduct financial literacy program from my savings. It was getting difficult day by day, but in the same year I was awarded with ‘Financial Education Awareness Award’ which helped to me to attract financial help from different organizations. And in 2016 I was selected as the member of US Embassy Youth Council (USYC), which also helped me to create more networks and work together with other youth who were doing amazing work in their respective fields.
Are students and communities implementing the financial principles in day to day life?
Yes, changes have been seen in the society. The students have become financially disciplined as they have started to deposit their savings in the bank account. They have also started to teach their parents about the ideas they learn from the program. Majority of students attending the program have started to deposit their savings in the bank account. The students have also controlled bad habit of overspending. Many parents have started to involve their children while making any financial decisions. In comparison, girls have shown keen interest to save money, control over spending habits, among others. As I saw the kids were getting bored standing in the program and listening to the lecture, I decided to teach kids in an entertaining way and wrote a book named ‘Finlico’ -- a graphic novel on financial literacy. The book has made it easy to provide financial knowledge to kids, as ‘Finlico’ is full of animated cartoons with information.
What are your future plans?
We have planned to conduct ‘School Bank’ workshop in 200 different schools of all over the country in the next seven months. Of the total number of schools, 100 will be the private schools and the remaining 100 will be the government school. During the workshop, both the students and their guardians will be taught about the importance and benefits of BFIs, saving, investment, among other financial information. We are also planning to collaborate with different organizations and stakeholders to conduct financial literacy programs in all over the nation. Despite living in city and having access of easy financial services, the students in the urban areas are in serious need of the financial education. My plan is to provide financial literacy to students and guardians of city areas as well.