Too few people in the developed world have heard the term Microfinance. Microfinance projects in developing countries provide sustainable financial opportunities for women, children and families living in dire situations. These loans are typically less than $100 and offer an individual the opportunity to start their own business and provide for themselves and their families in ways they never have before. The majority of Microfinance loan recipients are women and live in impoverished areas of the world.
One organization in Ghana, Africa is creating such opportunities for the women of their community. Volunteer Partnerships for West Africa (VPWA) has just celebrated the one year anniversary of their Microfinance program. Their most recent newsletter stated “The small loans and subsequent training provided by VPWA Microfinance help entrepreneurial women to launch or expand upon a small business and gain a regular income. This economic activity enables women to provide for their household, send their children to school, and minimize dependence on their husbands. VPWA Microfinance loans have fair terms and we pride ourselves on the strength of the relationships we have developed with our recipients.”
In this first year of the program VPWA secured 80 loans for the women of Ghana. The total amount loaned of GHC GHC11,126 or $8,192. The total amount repaid within the first year stands at 99.5%. The women have developed numerous business plans including the purchasing of a refrigerator to sell cold drinks, opening general supply stores, sewing and one woman put her loan directly back into the community by purchasing cement to build additional classrooms for a local school with the assistance of the community. The new classrooms have benefited the children of the Greater Accra region through increasing access to literacy and educational programs.
The Microfinance program not only provides the women with financial assistance but with an all-volunteer base VPWA is able to provide training to the recipients in business planning, accounting and management of resources.
In 2011 VPWA seeks to grow their program through increased loan participation to more women, provide further literacy programs to the community with a focus on financial education as well as seeking to further financial stability to the women of Greater Accra region of Ghana.
Self-sufficiency for a woman not only provide for herself and her family but for the generations that will follow her.
By: Jennifer Fierberg, MSW