Microfinance Program: FAQs

Why were AWFFI (African Women Food Farmer Initiative) and SPIA (Strategic-Planning-In-Action) renamed?

The new name, Microfinance Program (MFP), which was set in June 2009 (the initiative itself began in 1999), is more inclusive; provides a more accurate representation of our microfinance initiative, which serve both women and men; and is self-explanatory. While the majority of microfinance partners are farmers, not all loans are used for agricultural purposes. Credit is also commonly used for animal husbandry, food processing, handicrafts, petty trade and various services.

What positive changes do MFP partners see in their lives?

By participating in the MFP, THP partners gain the opportunity to:

  • Save on a regular basis
  • Send their children to school
  • Feed their families
  • Start or expand businesses
  • Make home improvements
  • Read and write
  • Feel confident and proud

As Javenie Toussaint, a MFP partner in Benin, responded to this question: "I cannot explain all the good it has done!"

How is THP's microfinance model unique?

  • The parameters of the products, like the interest rate and loan terms, are defined by the community members, in consultation with THP staff.
  • Microfinance services are integrated into a more comprehensive rural development effort, known as the Epicenter Strategy, which includes agriculture, education and health components.
  • The interest rates are lower than what other Microfinance Institutions (MFIs) charge, because THP relies on the participation of MFP members, thereby reducing the cost of offering sustainable microfinance services.
  • THP requires that partners enroll in literacy classes before receiving loans.
  • MFP partners have access to voluntary savings accounts, in addition to what they are required to save (10% of principal) before receiving a loan.
  • The model has the potential to be truly sustainable in the long term since ultimately, each revolving loan fund becomes recognized as a Rural Bank.