While Nepal has made progress in reducing poverty rates over the past twenty years, the country remains one of the poorest in South Asia and is among the poorest in the world. In 2016, Nepal ranked 144 out of 187 countries on the UN Human Development Index, falling into the lowest category of human development. Poverty in Nepal is complex and multidimensional and although Nepal has experienced a broad-based recovery since the 2015 earthquakes, challenges remain. Even though GDP grew by 7.5 per cent in 2017, a significant proportion of the population are either at risk of falling back into poverty or are struggling to consolidate their economic gains.
Income generation and employment are key to reducing poverty. Employment within Nepal is largely informal and overwhelmingly male-dominated, with an estimated 6 per cent of women engaged in formal employment. Supporting domestic job creation, especially for women, is central to ensuring long term and inclusive economic growth.
Micro-enterprise Development Program (MEDEP)
$32.3 million, 2013-2018
The Micro-Enterprise Development Program (MEDEP) is a key initiative of Australia's aid program to Nepal and is implemented by the United Nations Development Program and the Government of Nepal. The program trains the poor and the ultra-poor to become entrepreneurs and assists them in establishing and developing their own businesses. As well as training, the program provides business development services and access to markets, finance and technologies. To date, the program has created more than 84,800 micro-entrepreneurs and over 154,000 jobs, with around 70 per cent of beneficiaries being women.