Keeping an eye on the money
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CTA. 2001. Keeping an eye on the money. Rural Radio Resource Pack 01/3. Wageningen, The Netherlands: CTA.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/57220
Cecilia Fomenky describing how loans, when used properly, can substantially improve the lives of women and their families.
Keeping an eye on the money Cue: When non-government organisations get involved in giving credit, they often have strong ideas about how the money should be used. Giving credit to women is often regarded as a way of supporting whole families, helping to ensure that children are fed, clothed and educated. But what happens if the recipients of loans do not use the money for their families. What if instead of becoming entrepreneurs the loanees just use the money to buy alcohol and snacks? Martha Chindong spoke to Cecilia Fomenky, the president of Cameroon?s National Centre for Counselling and Women Entrepreneurship Development Training, an organisation that keeps a very close watch on how its loans are used. Martha began by asking what the goals of the centre were. IN: ?The NGO was actually created? OUT: ?have gone back to school.? DUR?N 5?50? BACK ANNOUNCEMENT: Cecilia Fomenky describing how loans, when used properly, can substantially improve the lives of women and their families. Transcript Fomenky The NGO was actually created to train women on entrepreneurship development, that is small business development for rural women and urban poor women. And after training them for many years, we decided to find out the result; are women getting into small businesses? And we found out that many were not doing so. And many of them responded that they were not doing so because they lacked capital. We went to the level of the banks and found out that banks were not giving small loans to women, and more so to very poor women, and when we questioned them, their problem was that they were afraid that the poor would not be able to pay, and we have proved the contrary: the poor actually pay their loans. Chindong That?s interesting. Just tell us how you operate, madam. Fomenky Well, our operation is very simple. We work with individuals, but in groups, and the first condition is that the women must be very poor. It?s not like we have money to dish out like groundnuts. We don?t even have. And we have a few people who are becoming interested in what we are doing, and the little money that they give us, we try to make optimum use of it. And the best way is to actually target the very poor. And so a woman who does not have any other possibility of expanding or of starting her activity comes to us, through the group, to get the loan. Chindong This set of women, they can take a loan of about how much? Fomenky The maximum is 50,000 for first time loanees, and we, in order to measure whether they are growing their businesses, train them at the beginning, on the importance of saving. So at the same time as they are reimbursing, they are also saving an equal amount. For example if you took a loan of 50,000 francs, we expect that at the end of six months, you have reimbursed your 50,000 francs, and you have saved an equal amount of 50,000 francs or 40,000 francs at least. That?s what shows us that you are growing your business. And for second time loanees, if you have saved 40,000 francs we can give another loan for the second time loanees, of double the amount. For example if you have 40,000 we can give you 80,000; if you have 50,000 we can give you 100,000. But there are conditions which make us go that far. You may save 50,000 francs and not get 100,000 francs the second time. All this depends on your discipline during the six months period of reimbursement. We have what we call utilisation checks during the reimbursement period. We come to your business site once every week, one, to get the reimbursement, but more importantly to check what you are doing, see how you are doing it. If you are not at your market place where you should be, all this is taken into consideration. We have a few difficulties. Some of them are not behaving well at their business places; like some of them when they begin to get the money they resort to drinking, and that eats up the money, and then they have to borrow the money from somewhere to pay, and we say ?No?. So if such a woman comes with her money at the end, we can?t give her another loan, because during the utilisation checks we have seen that she is not responsible. She is not serious with the business activity. She is eating up into the business. She is drinking, she is eating soya, you meet her in the bar eating and drinking, eating soya and drinking, and that is that money. If she comes we don?t give her the loan, because she is not improving her family. She may be improving herself, if she calls that improving herself. We don?t see eating soya and drinking beer as improving oneself. It is not a responsible act, and so we discourage them. Chindong Madam, don?t you think that some of these women resort to drinking with the loan because of the frustration they have back at home. Maybe their husbands want to control the money; maybe they want to use the money for family rations so they decided to first of all enjoy themselves before they would take all of it from them. Fomenky We are actually the friends of these women, and some of them say just what you have said. But we tell them it?s not a solution to the problem. It increases their frustration. I mean they should put the money in the bank and show the men that they can do something, better that drink it, become drunk and go and sleep, and tomorrow you don?t even have the capital again. And that?s why we won?t give some of them the second time loans, because they have eaten up into it, they have not improved their families. I don?t think drinking is even helping herself! It is killing herself! No woman should face a problem in that way. Chindong Have you taken time to find out what benefit these women have had from the loans, those that are successful? Fomenky One of the first things that makes us say they are growing is the fact that they are able to save, at the same time as they are reimbursing. Another which shows us that the businesses of some of the women are growing, is the expansion. That is some of the women who were buying buckets of egusi, after about three months into the programme, they started buying a bag of egusi, which is very encouraging. Another indication is the way they look. The first time they got into the programme they really looked wretched and untidy. But now they are very happy. You know when you arrive at the market place, you see big smiles, and they are cleaner and they have their lipstick on, and it?s really interesting to see the way they look. And some of them have children who were out of school. These children, many of them have gone back to school. End of tape.