Kelzang Wangchuk 

These days Kezang Dema, a resident of a far-flung village in Pemagatshel, does not go to the bank. It comes to her.

The Farmer’s Outreach Banking (FOB) service of the Bhutan Development Bank serves villagers like Kezang at home. The FOB service at Mikuri village in Dungmaed gewog started on July 23.

Kezang Dema earns from selling vegetables. Without a savings bank account, she said that she worried about her money.

“The service helps housewives in remote villages like me who cannot make it to the banks to open savings accounts and save money. We can also withdraw the money whenever we are in need,” she said.

Chimi Dema from Laneri said she saved a little money she earned from working along the roads in her husband’s account as she doesn’t have a saving account in any financial institutions. “But I can now save in my own account.”

Dorji Wangmo from Mikuri said she cannot earn much but wanted to save when children send money and a little she earned from selling vegetables. “But I could not save as I don’t have a saving account.”

She said that they now have the opportunities to earn money even in the villages but most of the people cannot make an effort to go to the banks because the banking facilities are far from their village.

Mikuri and Bangyuel chiwog tshogpa, Tashi Choden, said since they had to go to Nganglam or Pemagatshel to make savings or withdrawals, they could only save little.

“We have to pay about Nu 7,000 if we go to Pemagatshel and Nu 6,000 to Nganglam,” the tshogpa said.

People can save their money in the Drinchen Ama savings boxes. They cannot take out the money once they put it in the savings boxes until the banking officials’ monthly visit.

BDBL’s branch manager in Pemagatshel, Yeshi Jamtsho, said that people are showing interest in saving.

He said that the officials will go to the village on the 25th of every month to provide the FOB service and provide more saving boxes.

He said the FOB service includes loan repayment, saving collections and withdrawal, loan approval and opening of the accounts. “We are taking our FOB services to the remote villages beside the gewog centres.”

The 14 FOB stations in the dzongkhag cater to more than 1,000 clients in the eight gewogs.