Kiva project 2: The Essofalafia in Togo

Essofalafia in Togo
Here is a summary of The Road’s second Change Starts Here project:

A micro-financing loan to the Essofalafia women’s association in Togo.

Created in 2007, the ESSOFALAFIA association is an energetic group of married women in Agoe (Togo) who share their financial means for the benefit of their households.

They have different businesses such as selling cereals (corn, beans), mats and soaps. Since their main business is related to cereals, they have a common shop where they stock their goods.

The first loan the members of this association are seeking will enable them to buy 11 sacks of corn, 6 sacks of bean, 35 mats and 8 boxes of soap. With this new stock, they will be able to make more sales and to provide for their families. (See their full profile on Kiva).

Their loan went through “WAGES”, a local micro financing partner of Kiva.)

Loan Request: $1,850.00
Raised so far: $450.00 $1,850
Repayment terms: 15 months

This is The Road’s 2nd social project. We gave them a loan of US$150 (Here is our first project).

We collected the funds for our loan during an (excellent) Ethiopian dinner prepared by Selamawit in Rome. Contributors were: Ekram (Libya), Selamawit (Ethiopia), Ray (Uganda), Hetty (Holland), Laurent (France), Tanaz (US) and Peter (Belgium). Some pictures:

Selamawit and Ekram

Selamawit serving coffee

Our first Kiva project: The Danaya women in Mali

Danaya project

Here is a summary of The Road’s first social project:

A micro-financing loan to the Danaya women in Mali.

Danaya is a group of seven women of the Hamdallaye district in the city of Koutiala in Mali. They know each other through the making of the local “pâte” (typically a cooked mash of grain, seeds, or nuts, formed into a ball and eaten with the fingers) called “soumbala”. They average 38 years of age. They are married and the mothers of at least four children.

Working for three years with Soro Yiriwaso – a local partner from Kiva- the loans have gone from 50,000 francs CFA (US$110) for the first loan to 150,000 francs (US$330) for the fifth loan. The group members all do the same work: making and selling soumbala. In addition, they have other work, such as knitting.

The current loan will enable them to buy the néré nuts, the base product for their soumbala, in larger quantities and at wholesale rather than retail prices. This will generate more profit. Their goal is to raise a profit of 125,000 francs CFA (US$280) for the duration of the loan. A large portion of the profits will serve to cover the school fees of the children and to cope with the typical family expenses.

In the future, the members will get their supplies from other places in Mali, especially from Gao and Kidal, which will lower the base price once more.

The women of Danaya have a 100% credit repayment history. (See their profile on Kiva)

The current loan request: US$2,050
Raised so far: US$925.00 US$2,050 (Nov 3rd 2008)
still needed: US$1,125.00 (Nov 3rd 2008)
They will repay the loan by May 16th 2009.

Change Starts Here

Burkina women
I am an aid worker. Like many of my colleagues, I often feel inadequate, unfulfilled as I don’t “do enough”. Enough to make a difference. Enough to make a real change in the world.

And yet, I do believe that the world can be made a better place. While I strongly believe change is a social movement, creating a social conscience, I am also convinced the change starts from within. Within each individual.

I want to start with me. And those around me: my friends, my colleagues, my family and those of you who read “The Road to the Horizon” regularly.

This is one of the reasons I started this blog, The Road. Not only to share my experiences, but also to make people aware of social issues. And to make people aware of “the work in progress”, the work to “make this world a better place”.

But talk is not enough. Now is the time to start doing something. And what better time than now, at the start of the “Season of Giving”. Would we not want to do away with the unwanted presents this year, and use that money for a good cause?

So here’s the background of my plan:

1/ “Change” starts within the individual, both in those that give and those being assisted. I want to concentrate the assistance on the individual, not on an organisation or institution.

2/ I truly believe in the power of micro-financing, a “poverty relief mechanism” which came into the spotlight when Bangladeshi economist Professor Muhammad Yunus won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for his micro-credit pioneer work.

3/ It is a fact that when women and girls earn an income, they reinvest 90 percent of it into their families, as compared to only 30 to 40 percent for a man. (Source: The Girl Effect, quoting Woman Empowered: Inspiring Change in the Emerging World. See also this FAO report)

4/ Thus, combining the above, I want to “invest” money, on a strictly not-for-profit basis, in individual initiatives by women in the developing world, through a controlled micro financing scheme.

5/ I am intrigued by the work of Kiva, a not-for-profit organisation, the world’s first person-to-person micro-lending organisation. Through their website, Kiva enables individuals to lend directly to unique entrepreneurs in the developing world. Anyone can look up a person in the developing world who needs some start-up or investment funds (screened by local micro-financing organisations), and give them an interest-free loan.
Once the loan is paid back, the lender can redraw his/her money, or re-invest it in another individual. There is no overhead, all funds go directly to the person requesting for the loan.

Here is what we will do:

1/ I have set up a lending team on Kiva, through which I will encourage people to contribute to several projects. You can track the loans here.

2/ To kick things off, I made a loan of US$100 (80 Euro) to “Danaya”, a group of seven women in the Hamdallaye district in the city of Koutiala, Mali. (check this post for details).

3/ With a group of colleagues, we will arrange for a series of small local social events in which each of us, in turn, will cook a dinner. Each participant will pay 20 Euros (about US$25), which we will invest through The Road’s lending team in some of Kiva’s selected micro-businesses set up by women.
Update Nov 4th:
Collected US$150 on the first one! Check this post.

4/ From November 1 until December 31 2008, I contributed US$1 for every comment left on the original kick-off blog post. Each dollar was invested as a loan in a Kiva project through The Road’s lending team.
Update: US$67 was collected by Dec 31.

5/ I will actively make publicity for this project on “The Road to The Horizon” and regularly report on its status. You can follow the progress of our project via our score card.

6/ You can also contribute through my PayPal account (to get the details send me an email via peter (a) theroadtothehorizon (dot) org), or register with Kiva, and contribute directly. Attribute your donation to the lending team “The Road”. Drop me an Email when you contribute, so I can track the total donations.

Be the change you want to see, starting now!

Picture courtesy WFP (M.Sayagues)

Our Project Score Card

Updated Nov 22 2015

Eight years ago, we kicked off “Change Starts Here”, a social project driven by the readers of The Road to The Horizon and Have Impact.
Our community funds micro-finance projects via Kiva.

Here is progress thus far:

Total loans allocated to projects: US$97,700 

  • Raised through our blog: US$8,570
  • Other team members contributed: US$57,109
  • Reinvested re-paid loans: US$32,021

Total members of The Road’s Kiva Lending team: 102
Total loans by The Road’s Kiva Lending team: 2,845

We supported these micro-financing projects on Kiva:

join our team

The background of this project, you find in the kick-off post

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