For over a month now, I have been monitoring the project Women Empowerment expanding access to financial opportunity, the support of entrepreneurship and innovation which has had 33 participants, mostly single mothers (1 man so far). The non-profit organization RUDEC has been giving out micro-loans of 40 to 60 euros with low interest rate to groups of women since 2012. The participants pay back within 10 months; all groups finished their cycles with a 100 % success rate repaying their loan. A majority of the women can afford keeping fowls and goats with the loan; others are able to rent some land to grow corn or beans. Some are even renting a small hair salon. I have encountered strong women restarting their business when another did not work out. I have also met vulnerable woman working hard to be able to provide for their children and send them to school.
To ensure the financial sustainability of this project, I am calling on the help of all supporters of the idea to raise start-up funds for the women's enterprise project. With this being said, I would really appreciate any monetary donation that will help launch the businesses of at least 10 women in Belo.
The start-up funds will be returned to a separate bank account of the NGO with an 10 % interest and go on another cycle, reaching more participants. I do not see this as charity - I as an global citizen, currently in Cameroon, am appealing to other global citizen so this project will expand and continue long after I have left the area.
There is another side to this story. According to a 2012 study of the local University of Buéa, only around 5 % of the citizens of Cameroon have access to banking services. These loans not only enable starting a business for women who would otherwise have no access to capital, but also allow them to get acquainted with financial services as such.
This model has been known in development aid for decades as solidarity lending, in which group members take the loans together, save together and most important share ideas and encourage each other to pay back in time. It serves as extra insurance for RUDEC as weekly savings will cover the costs if any member has to default. For the women weekly savings mean that most of them will finish the loan cycle with a profit. The result of which is empowering women in rural areas, who normally have a weak position in society, and a growth in confidence.
Those donations that exceed 600 EUR (10 women receiving a microloan of 60 EUR) will be directed towards another amazing project of RUDEC. Since 2006 the organization has supported orphaned children of Belo community. The orphans are placed within the homes of big-hearted local families and RUDEC provides for their nutrition, health care and education (including school fees, uniforms, books). Unfortunately for some of them we still need your help for school materials for the coming school year 2016/17 to be able to progress with their education.