Hope through Education

"Give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day. Give a woman
microcredit, she, her husband, her children and her
extended family will eat for a lifetime."
Bono

Bringing change for good – the Hope that Micro Finance brings.

Last November St Peter’s Life-Line became aware that to support an entire community, we needed to start supporting the community at grass roots level, as well as the essential work of supporting the school providing free education for the orphaned, vulnerable and very poor children in the community.

When we discussed our vision to start the programme with Fr Frankline, he told us that it was his dream for the community too – a good sign!  We had also been blessed with one of our trustees being a specialist in the area of micro finance and after some initial discussions and advice from her, we decided we should replicate a highly successful model of micro finance established by the Grameen Foundation (of which the founder has won the nobel peace prize for his work in this area).

The project was scoped on a visit in May 2012, with our main challenge being who would have the skills, vision and ability to manage a project like this.  After spending some time in thought and prayer on this one we came up with one name – Veronica (who already runs the incredible ARP – anti FGM programme) the only problem was, she was already employed by the Catholic Diocese on a different project and was running the FGM programme because it was her passion.  As ever, God was already one step ahead of us, smoothing and sorting the way forward.  When we had a meeting with Veronica we found out that she was no longer working for the Catholic Diocese as the project had come to an end and they were no longer able to employ her due to funding restraints, she was continuing with the ARP anti FGM programme because it was her passion.  This opened the way for us, she loved the Micro Finance idea and although not yet a specialist in the area, had the ability to manage a programme like this and importantly had an already established large network of women to work with.  We were able to fund her employment for St Peter’s Education Centre and she now works 50% on the anti FGM programme and 50% on the micro finance programme. 

In June we were able to start a pilot scheme which has seen 20 women from 4 groups receive a small loan after creating a viable and sustainable business plan with support and training.  The key to success is that the women meet every other week in a small group, discussing their successes and failures, receiving training and repaying very small amounts of their loan on a regular basis.  All the women have all decided to begin saving for the first time too.  The women who are on the pilot project are all share the following; they are very poor, they want to improve their lives (and that of their families) by escaping poverty.  By being given this small opportunity, they are able to change their lives for good.  And the great thing is, that when their loan is repaid, it is then recycled to help another woman establish her business opportunity.

One year on, in May 2013, we now have a total of 106 ladies who have joined the programme, all of whom are running small businesses, meeting regularly to receive advice and share ideas and none of whom have defaulted on their payments.  We have been amazed at the diversity of businesses, from selling cereals at the local market, to raising livestock, making baskets, the list is endless.  We also have over 200 ladies who have joined the associated savings scheme, all of whom for the first time in their lives are able to save a small amount of money.

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