RESEARCHING the effects of integrated microfinance in the poverty-stricken areas of Nepal is more than academic for USQ Fraser Coast’s Ratna Paudyal – it’s also an act of passion.
The university’s associate lecturer was born to illiterate parents in a remote village in Nepal. He and his 12 siblings shared a room with their parents, sleeping four to a bed. Now a world away from that lifestyle, the award-winning business and law lecturer is on a mission to find answers to his native country’s poverty.
On a recent journey home, he had three goals in mind – introduce his two-year-old son to relatives, talk with impoverished people and present his research paper at the Nepalese Academy of Management’s 2nd international conference on Reshaping Organisations to Develop Responsible Global Leadership.
“My family had never seen my son before,” Mr Paudyal said.
“I was also working on my doctorate studies, which includes research on Nepalese organisations that implement health and development work to improve quality of life for impoverished people.”
Mr Paudyal’s thesis on Integrated Microfinance is about how education and income generating activities in Nepal could contribute to the development of social capital in that country and hence assist in overcoming poverty and its related issues.
“I interviewed five case workers from Nepalese institutions that were offering those services talked with five community members and 20 recipients about how the services had changed their lives,” he said. “I am also looking at the possibilities of implementing integrated microfinance into Australian context.”
Mr Paudyal said that while microfinance was often used in developing countries as a poverty relief tool, recent research has identified problems with the system brought about by the apparent misuse of loans by the recipients who have found themselves compelled to use the money to fund necessary health care and other basic needs.
“Increasing evidence suggests that minimal support is not enough to assist impoverished people,” he said.
“This is because the causes of poverty are multidimensional – it may be a lack of good health, education or training, or they may have no social networks and rely solely on family members. In many cases, the recipients need more than finance to break the poverty cycle.”
Mr Paudyal’s research paper was one of 105 papers presented to 500 international delegates at the conference.