Thx, Rachel. I totally agree: if possible to do so (ie, if skilled instructors in-country can be found), it would be great to include simple stress-reduction, imaging and breath techniques. I only wish we could find $50k to jumpstart this immediately because the window for its effectiveness is fast closing... As for "finding" the students: that would not be a problem. We know where they live, whether it's in refugee camps or mtn hamlets, and the "word of mouth" networks are amazing.
(a) what is the average loan taken out by the group in the first instance? $200pp b) what is the am't taken out after 10 mos ? It was another $200, but we are changing it to $50 in 2020. 1st loan:15% interest; 2nd loan: 1.5% . (c) 5 groups of 15 over 2 years with only 1 default due to fraud - was the debt written off? Actually it has been 11 groups to date; we have more than 1 grp in several camps. Re the default case, the group Treas collected & allegedly stole all $3,000 + interest) of all 15 members (claiming theft). Police did nothing. We have since changed our repayment process to be monthly via mPesa into a central MBB fund.
(d) what support is then given to the women in the group, to continue with their business, rebuilding trust? That group which defaulted maintained their businesses but dissolved as a group.
In general MBB devotes a lot of time and attention to group bonding. 1st, we bring women who excelled in the earlier grps to the trainings of new grps, where they share their experiences and the secrets of their success. This motivates the new members being trained assures them that it is not simply MBB imparting skills to these women but fellow refugee women – their peers –now successful business owners and even empowered to be trainers themselves. 2nd, continued field visits by MBB Micro-Enterprise staff, to check on how the women are performing with their personal businesses and advising on potential market changes keeps these women motivated and trusting us. This is not the case for other nonprofits who deal only with the groups’ leaders who may not be trustworthy in the end. Staff interaction with all members is critical to euccess. 3rd, MBB’s approach to survey, select and train these women is now seen as exemplary in the field b’se we approach the elected refugee camp leaders first to explain our work. Such leaders have power to organize settlement women from different camp sectors and ethnic groups to attend our first meetings and become informed openly about our work. From the selection process to the training and disbursement of funds, everything is done transparently with government and settlement officials in attendance to advise and witness all. 4th, MBB’s Women Connecting program, which started initially to reconnect lost relatives within and outside refugee camps, has partly become a means of marketing some women’s projects to relatives and friends overseas. These are things that have caused our stakeholders to appreciate and build trust in MBB.
(e) What are the typical business being funded? Most started very simple individual things: baking mandazi, importing cloth/sodas/sandals/salt or other staples to sell in small amount. Some have been very creative: a grp of 3 put their loans together and started a (liquid and solid) soap-making business; another grp started a small restaurant; another grp of 5 pools their money to buy a cow each month, slaughtering it into very small pieces to sell (to augment diet); 5 women have become money-lenders and this brings high profits since they charge 15% (with the family’s refugee camp food ratio cards taken as collateral among themselves). Another sub-group of 5 women buy bedsheet materials, embroidering them with S.Sudanese designs and then selling to friends and relatives in Sudan, Australia and USA at favorable prices.
(f) once they save weekly for a few months, what is the use of the funds? is it added to the loan borrowed as capital available for their business or is it kept as savings for other purposes. Members repay on monthly basis into MBB MobileMoney (mPesa) account. Interest is the basic amount repaid only and the principal loan is repaid on the last day. This allows clients to have enough stock to supply for the market. Once the full amount of principal + interest is paid back to MBB, the principal is used to fund new groups and the interest helps to support MBB’s staffing costs.
(g) how was the repayment structured (ie) if $100 loan each x 15 in group = total loans $1,500 given out? So they bank how much each month (representing the total amount to be repaid at the end of 10 months in the form of 'profit'? Is it structured this way for Shariah compliance ie no interest, but it is an installment totalling at the end ie $1,600? Each group receives $200x15 = $3,000 as principal loan per grp at 15% interest. The first cycle runs for 10 months, meaning they repay $45.00 at the end of each month in interest as a group. The principal is held by the group to operate their businesses and is repaid on the final day of repayment. Weekly meetings (chaired by grp leaders and attended by MBB staff) bolster accountability, help solve challenges, and reduce the chance of default(s), If any individual member runs away, becomes ill, or fails in her business, the whole grp devises the means to cover the loss.