Micro-Loans For AIDS Orphans Caregivers (Year 1)
THIS PROJECT HAS BEEN FULLY FUNDED!
Thank you for your support!
Stay tuned for updates from the field from this project.
Northern Ghana has higher rates of poverty than southern Ghana, with the Upper West Region as one of the most impoverished in the country. In Northern Ghana, approximately 65% of the population lives in the poorest quintile, reporting annual expenditures of less than 40 cents per day in 1999 (Mazzucato et al. 2008).
Most of the women we are working with have multiple jobs, including working on the family farm in addition to supplementing their income with work as seamstresses, hairdressers, or selling food from a market kiosk. Profit margins are very slim and the women are too poor to qualify for bank loans to start or expand their small businesses. Furthermore, all of these women support their own families along with one or more AIDS orphans which creates a significant financial burden.
True Vision Ghana hopes to engage these caregivers in the Economic Empowerment Program by giving them small 200 GHS (approximately 126 CDN) loans for a 1 year term with the purpose of starting or expanding a small business to generate income.
Initially, True Vision Ghana plans on working with 28 female caregivers who were involved in a 2010 pilot project as well as several orphans who are over 18 and have been phased out of our Care and Aid Program. From our lessons learned in the pilot we plan on organizing the women into small groups of 4 – 5 members. Each group member will receive a 200 GHS loan at the beginning of the project. The women will pay 20 GHS monthly back to TVG for the initial loan thus paying back 240 GHS at the end of the year. If some women have difficulty in repaying their loans, the group will be responsible for paying back the loan. Through a system of mutual support we hope that the women will all individually benefit from being a part of the group while reducing the risk each woman assumes in paying back her loan.
Although this is not how a bank would charge “interest” to customers, TVG feels that the group loan system with a “reinvestment payment” of 40 GHS will allow the women to experience some early successes and slowly integrate into the wider economy. With the reinvestment payment, 20 GHS will be put back into the pool of money for the microloans. The other 20 GHS will be invested into TVG’s Care and Aid Program to help pay for the school fees of the 40 orphans that the women look after. It is our hope that through this system the women will be encouraged to set aside funds for the education of their family and to invest in the future.
Update from the field: March 2012
Throughout the last quarter from December 2011 to February 2012, TVG field staff and volunteers have conducted home visits with the caregivers benefiting from the microloan program in order to encourage repayments on the loan. Loan repayments are starting to pick up again and it is our hope that we can work with the caregivers to ensure they have successful businesses that will be able to sustain their families in the long term. A couple of our caregivers have noted that their rice and bean selling businesses have been showing excellent profits in the last several months thanks to the microloans.
Update from the field: December 2011
In July and August 2011 we experienced great success with 100% of the caregivers repaying their monthly loan amounts (20 GHC). However, from September onwards we have seen an increasing number of caregivers that are unable to pay their monthly loan amounts. We are still working closely with the caregivers to find out why their businesses have been experiencing declines in customer demand recently. With inflation increasing in Ghana every month (8.56% in October 2011, up from 8.40% in September) it is quite possible that customers do not the same level of discretionary funds to spend on consumer goods and services. The TVG field team is working on a plan to help the caregivers learn more about their business plan and helping them find markets for their products.
Update from the field: September 2011
So far the roll out of the Economic Empowerment microloan program has gone quite smoothly. 28 caregivers of AIDS orphans have been enrolled in the program and each received a 200 GHS loan in early April 2011. The first caregiver meeting was held in June 2011 and 24 out of the 28 caregivers attended. Most were able to meet the 20 GHS monthly repayment amount and one caregiver was even able to double her repayment! Overall TVG had an 85% repayment rate at the first caregiver meeting.
Field staff are now following up with the caregivers that did not attend the meeting to see if there have been challenges with their businesses and if they require more time o make their loan repayments. Most of the caregivers we are working with have shops to sell drinks, rice, doughnuts, and other consumer goods. The money we have loaned them has helped increase their purchasing power to meet their client demand. We also have a few caregivers engaged in making and selling shea butter, soap, clothes, and doing hair dressing.
Update from the field: June 2011
The caregivers had their first meeting for the launch of the Economic Empowerment program at the end of March 2011. The caregivers registered to participate in the 2011 program and were given a 200 GHS loan at the beginning of April to expand their small business. The caregivers agreed to meet monthly in order to talk about their success and challenges as a group and to repay 20 GHS of their loan. A total of 28 caregivers will be participating in the micro-loan program this year. TVG field volunteers will also be conducting site visits periodically to check on the caregivers and their small businesses. Interviews will be conducted to discuss how to improve the micro-loan program and to discuss challenges in a one-on-one setting where caregivers may feel able to speak more openly.