Microfinance in practice – Emma

  The whole process of creating, reworking, editing, and writing up the skeleton for a microfinance organisation has been exhilarating..though recently I’d begun to question whether or not a small microfinance scheme in Farende could really work. I found my answer today, when Cyril invited us to a meeting of fifteen women who operate a lending program among themselves..every Tuesday at 1, the women gather behind the big cement Affaires Social building, in a small mud hut. They filtered in this afternoon, one by one, to lay down their money that was borrowed to run their small businesses, mostly selling food or drinks in the market. In this whirlwind, I saw sums up to  the equivlant of $40 – on a faded wooden picnic table. Every person paid their loan back on time, and in full (including interest, of which part of was kept as “savings” for the woman to withdraw later on), with the exception of one woman. This particular woman showed up to the hut late, with a lesser sum in hand than she owed. Upon seeing this, a number of other women erupted, shouting loudly in Kabiye and pointing accusing fingers at her. This exchange clearly illustrated to me that in a system where people have no collateral to lay down to take out a loan, a sense of accountability to repay the loan is kept through peer pressure. Surely, after all that yelling today, the woman would try harder to pay back on time and in full next week.
It was such a dynamic, engaging, experience, watching these women unfold their hands to proudly reveal and lay down on the table wrinkled money that was then counted, and shoved into a plastic bag by someone who would carry it to the bank later to be deposited into an account shared by all fifteen women. Just last week alone, the women deposited nearly $200 deposited into this bank account. It made me incredibly hopeful to see these transactions taking place and the processes of microfinance being carried out by this women. Fingers crossed, we’ll be able to create an initiative with the youth that is as sustainable and strong as the one I saw today.

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