The microcredit program began In October of 2005 when PTPL sent $1,820 to start the program in Uvira. This program had been a dream since the founding of PTPL and involved the interchange of ideas among those in Greensboro and Congo during the process of establishing guidelines for the program. A total of $7500 has now been sent for the loan fund. It is our hope that we will be able to raise sufficient funds in 2010 to be able to send $2500 more this year for a total of $10,000.
The program is designed to provide loans for women to begin or grow small businesses. The goal of the program is to enable women to become self sufficient. An investment in women in developing countries is an investment in the children and their education, health and future. Amounts of the loans range from $50 to $200. Loans are given for three months. The local coordinators require that each recipient save $1 a week. These savings are often used for the education of their children and healthcare. The loan with interest is paid at the end of the three months. If a woman successfully repays her original loan, she is eligible to apply for another loan.
From 2006 to 2009, 332 loans representing a total of $28,850 were granted. However, the demand was much greater with 491 loans being requested. The rate of reimbursement over the 3-year period was 84% in spite of the difficult conditions under which the recipients live and work. For example, in one area the local government decided to clear the main streets of the town of kiosks (the small stands from which the women sell their goods). The women were then forced to relocate and the down time and additional cost caused some of the repayments to be late. In another instance, one of the loan recipients was brutally raped and unable to work for quite a while. The implementation of modified procedures resulted in repayment of 100% of the loans granted in May to August 2009!
Examples of the businesses operated by the women are selling clothing, medicines, coal, shoes, embroidery, and food items, e.g. flour, doughnuts, fish, corn, rice, palm oil. In the latest group of participants, two of them operated restaurants. The businesses are small stands or booths along the streets or in the market.
There are four board members who administer the loans in Uvira. The board members are Rubingu who has a BA equivalent in Community Development; Nestor who teaches physics at Uvira and designs cultural development projects; Mushonyo, who is very familiar with the operation of nonprofit organizations, and Kibambazi, pastor of the Pentecostal church at Kiliba.