Microfinance Program in Africa
The Hunger Project's (THP's) Microfinance Program is a training, savings and credit program that addresses a critical missing link for the end of hunger in Africa: the economic empowerment of the most important but least supported food producers on the continent - Africa's women.
Since the inception of the Microfinance Program in 1999, THP has grown the loan portfolio to approximately US$2.9 million across Benin, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Mozambique, Senegal and Uganda. By the end of 2011, 45,000 partners had saved a total of US$1.6 million! Perhaps most importantly, 28 Rural Banks have graduated to operate as their own independent, community-owned and women-led rural financial institutions.
By providing women food farmers easy access to credit, adequate training and instilling in them the importance of saving, THP enables women to engage in income-generating activities to increase their incomes and invest in their businesses, pay their children's school fees, construct pit latrines, purchase medicines, pay for health care, and make home improvements or build new homes. Furthermore, through participation in the program, women leaders develop self-confidence and assertiveness, gaining elevated status in their households and communities. They are creating a new future where women and men are equal partners in the development of the well-being of their families and their community.
To demonstrate THP's commitment to all members of the community, THP also offers men the opportunity to participate in the Microfinance Program, following the same principles and procedures. However, because the focus of the program is on rural women, THP allocates over 75 percent of all loan funds to women.
THP's Microfinance Program was originally implemented as an independent program in 1999 (under the title, the African Woman Food Farmer Initiative-AWFFI). In 2003, the program was incorporated into THP's Epicenter Strategy in Africa, an integrated rural development approach that mobilizes clusters of villages where women and men are mobilized to create and run their own programs to meet basic needs. The Epicenter Strategy is a proven, replicable, low-cost methodology for empowering the women and men of rural communities in Africa to be self-reliant.
Heroes in Action
|Meet Elizabeth Kalimbuka, one of THP's specialized HIV/AIDS animators who has built up a bustling business. Elizabeth is a shining star in her community and a great example of the importance of supporting HIV-positive community members.|
|Meet Comfort Kissiwaa, who has been actively involved in helping to shape life in her community. She says her association with THP has helped to change her from a timid and shy person to an outspoken person, full of confidence and drive. Her income has increased by 600 percent!|