Chad: Micro-finance networks boost business initiatives by women
"Let’s get up and get to work — the slogan of a new savings cooperative for women in the village of Balimba, in the south of Chad — bears witness to their motivation and entrepreneurial spirit.
"With our modest capital investment, we weren't getting very far," Florence, a member of the group, explains. "As it was our own money, we did not manage it as well as we might have done and we were spending too much. Now, micro-credit has given us the necessary motivation and as a result we make a much greater effort."
- The project aims to increase the supply of locally-based financial services for poor and low-income populations by almost 50 percent by 2014, focusing on women.
- In 6 months, the programme to promote business enterprise by women has resulted in the creation of 185 associations, bringing together more than 4,000 women.
- The programme has lasts 4 years and has a total budget of $5 million dollars, financed jointly by UNDP, UNCDF and the Government of Chad.
Through the Programme of Support for Inclusive Finance in Chad, UNDP has set out to facilitate access to customized financial services designed to improve people’s living conditions, address their needs, and encourage business enterprise, especially among women.
This initiative is supported by PARCEC (Promotion and Support for Networks of Savings and Credit Co-operatives), a network of 33 micro-credit co-operatives that had 33,000 members, including 8,756 women, by the end of 2012.
Clarisse Neloum, who has worked with PARCEC for seven years, explained that the savings and education programmes were created specifically to promote business entrepreneurship among women, in a departure from more traditional methods.
"They save throughout the period in which they have access to credit as opposed to conventional credit, in which savings are a necessary pre-requisite before anything else can happen. This constitutes an opportunity for very poor women who are exceptionally proficient at what they do," Clarisse said, pointing out that in six months, 185 different associations have been created, bringing together more than 4,000 women.
The beneficiaries have also received training in credit management.
"We have learned to tell the difference between good and bad debt," Florence explains. "Good debt is the type of borrowing that helps us to consolidate our position and enables us to have enough to live on, to save and to improve our living conditions."
The activities that generate income for the beneficiaries range from the processing of local products to the production of shea oil, as well as the selling of fish and cereals.
"My health and the health of my children have improved, as we are now eating better," Florence adds.
Another participant explained that she could now buy malaria medicine she and her children need.
With a duration of four years (2012-2015), the programme has a total budget of US $5 million, financed jointly by UNDP ($2 million ), UNCDF ($1 million) and the Government of Chad ($2 million). Financial transparency is ensured thanks to technical services and close communication with stakeholders.
"We are going to have our management software audited and benchmarked, and we will benefit from training programmes for micro-finance entities," explains Allaramadji Natoita, deputy director of PARCEC, who says he is encouraged by the initial stage of this partnership with UNDP.