Micro-Enterprise Development Programme (MEDEP)

What is the project about

MEDEP beneficiaries
MEDEP has pioneered a model that supports the rural poor, women, youth and people from marginalised groups to create and run micro-enterprises. The government is adopting this model for its micro-enterprise support programmes.

Eighty-three percent of Nepal's population lives in rural areas. The lack of income-earning opportunities in these areas is a central cause of the widespread poverty and worsening food security in the country. It also forces ever more Nepalis to leave home to seek work in Nepal's towns and cities, in India and further afield. The sustainable development of Nepal's villages depends on generating many new local jobs, especially for the rapidly growing number of young job seekers. The Government's Three-Year Interim Plan (2010-2013) aimed at providing entrepreneurship development training to more than 56,000 due to its importance in removing a major grievance that fuelled the conflict - the lack of job opportunities in rural areas.

The Micro-Enterprise Development Programme (MEDEP) is creating employment and income opportunities for the rural poor by:

  • Providing skill and business training and other support, mainly for women and poor and disadvantaged people to set up micro-enterprises;
  • Helping establish business support services and representative organisations for micro-entrepreneurs; and
  • Working with the government to improve the policy environment.

The Programme works in 38 districts including in the Bhutanese Refugee Camps adjoining communities in eastern Nepal. It also assists local government bodies and the Ministry of Industry's line agencies in a further 13 districts to provide micro-enterprise development support.

What have we accomplished so far


Since it is began, MEDEP has developed over 60,000 micro-entrepreneurs (68% women, 20% Dalits and 67% youth) and created about 62,000 sustainable jobs. Eighty percent of MEDEP enterprises continue to do business - a high success rate that reflects the strength of this programme. The average MEDEP micro-entrepreneur earn over twice what they have earned before coming into contact with the Programme. MEDEP has established business support service organisations in 38 districts. These are providing a very useful service and are likely to continue as the ex-MEDEP staff that run them earn good living advising entrepreneurs. The programme has also helped establish micro-entrepreneurs associations that later serve their members and were the focal points for the Government and donors to keep in touch with the progress and needs of this sector.

Technical support to the Government help it produce its Microfinance Policy 2007 and its Micro-Enterprise Policy, 2008. These make the Government policy to 1) provide easier access to finance for poor rural people, and 2) to enable micro-enterprises to register as formal businesses. At the district level, the programme has supported local governments to implement the MEDEP model and small businesses to access district enterprise development funds.

MEDEP's impressive achievements led the Government in its Interim Plan to allocate $3 million to 45 districts and to gradually replicate the MEDEP model in the name of Micro Enterprise Development for Poverty Alleviation (MEDPA) across Nepal's all 75 districts. Eventually, in the fourth phase (August 2013 - July 2018), government’s MEDPA will gradually take over MEDEP’s role of creating and sustaining entrepreneurs and MEDEP will more focus towards capacity building of government line agencies and private organizations for the sustainable delivery of micro enterprise Development services. Its achievements also led MEDEP being highly commended in the International World Business and Development Awards, 2008.

Who Finances it?

Donor name Amount contributed
Australia Aid $31.65m
UNDP $2.54m
Central Queensland University, Australia $0.07m
Total Phase 4 Budget $37.27m

Delivery in previous fiscal year



MEDEP's importance to achieving the MDGs:

  • Reduces poverty and hunger (MDG 1) by increasing the incomes of poor rural households.
  • Promotes gender equality and empowers women (MDG 3). Sixteen of the 36 district micro-entrepreneurs' group associations and 7 of the 37 business development service providing organizations promoted by the project are headed by women. Most of the project's new women entrepreneurs have a strengthened role in household decision-making.
  • Improves school attendance and the health of women and children as women's incomes go mainly on better food, clothing, and education for their kids and to pay for health care (MDGs 2, 4, and 5).
  • Promotes environmental sustainability (MDG 7) by working with forest users' groups for the sustainable harvesting of forest products and by promoting environment-friendly enterprises.

Project Overview
Project duration:
Phase 1: 1998 to 2003
Phase 2: 2004 to March 2008
Phase 3: March 2008 to July 2013
Phase 4: August 2013 to July 2018
Geographic coverage:
Phase 1: 11 districts
Phase 2: 25 districts
Phase 3: 38 districts
Phase 4: 38 districts
Focus area:
Poverty Reduction
UNDP focal point:
Ms. Nabina Shrestha
Poverty and Inclusion Unit
UN House, Pulchowk
P.O.Box 107 Kathmandu, Nepal
Tel: 977-1- 552 3200
Fax: 977-1-552 3991
Email: registry.np@undp.org.np
Project focal point
Dr. Lakshman Pun
Chief Technical Advisor
Dhobighat, Lalitpur
P.O. Box 107 Kathmandu, Nepal
Tel: 977-1-5541949, 5541951
Fax: 977-1-5541950
Email: info@medep.org.np
Project website
Implementing Agency:
Ministry of Industry
Government Implementing Partners:
Ministry of Federal Affairsl and Local Development, Ministry of Forest and Soil Conversation, Ministry of Agriculture Development, District Development Committee (DDC), Cottage and Small Industries Development Board (CSIDB), National Federation of Micro Entrepreneurs Nepal (NMEFEN), District Cottage and Small Industries Office (DCSIO), District Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI), Industrial Enterprise Development Institute (IEDI), District Federations of Indigenous Nationalities, Dalits Organizations, relevant line agencies such as District Forest Office (DFO), District Agriculture Development Office (DADO), District Livestock Service Office (DLSO), Women Development Office, Business Development Service Providing Organisation (BDSPO), MFI partners – district-wise.
Private sector and civil society implementing partners:
Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Nepal Young Entrepreneurs' Forum, business houses, micro-finance institutions, Federation of Nepalese Cottage and Small Industries (FNCSI).
Development Partners
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