Small loans bring big benefits
Just up the road we met with Jeremy, a young man who received a loan through Lutheran World Relief’s support to the village savings and loan association where he is a member. With a very small loan of about $80, he started a business selling odds and ends like soap and food. He received training on business planning in addition to the loan and is now able to buy clothing for himself and has even purchased a cellphone that allows him to contact his suppliers in town. He explained to us that there is very high demand for different goods, and he is thinking about taking out an additional loan to expand his business.
We met with the Baraka Group, a village savings and loan association. Lutheran World Relief provided them with a small amount of money for loans (about $300). In the first 3 months of this year, members have more than doubled that amount with their own savings. When I asked the group of about 30 how many had taken loans, every hand was raised. Florence used her loan to start a small stall where she sells potatoes and charcoal. Fabrice travels into town to purchase matooke (green plantains that are cooked and mashed that are a staple in East African diets) and resells smaller quantities within the settlements. Another woman used her loan to start a dried cassava chip business. These small loans are helping them to expand income-generating opportunities, bringing a greater benefit for their families.
This same group was one of the first groups to receive support from Lutheran World Relief last year. Their cassava is just about ready to harvest. The corn that they planted this year is already growing tall. They will have enough to eat this year. “We are thankful for the support we have received from LWR,” says Odeth, the group’s secretary. “We see LWR sort of as a parent who has guided us through difficult times, and we look forward to seeing what is next.”