It is with great excitement that we announce the launch of our Microloan Program this month! Planning for this program began a year ago after a meeting with a microloan start-up based out of the US. They wanted to collaborate with us to issue microloans to dedicated applicants to further equip them with the tools needed to overcome poverty and oppression. After months of communicating, we received the exciting news that this organization, Oasis Microfinance, would be 100% funding a microloan program for Clothed in Hope. Overjoyed and overwhelmed, we did our research to ensure the success of this program, new to all of us.
We have created a Microloan Program that fits into the local culture and practices. A group of 10 women will be issued loans upon the acceptance of their application, presenting their business plan and profitability analysis to our Microloan Committee. These women will attend business and finance workshops to ensure that the capital gained from the loan is most effectively utilized to truly launch a new business or take an existing business to the next level of profitability. Women from our Loan Committee will also be making routine home visits to see the business in practice, to encourage loan recipients, and to address any needs that arise. Loans will be revolving, accessible to new applicants upon the repayment of previous loans, hoping to cycle through every 6 months.
Apart from the financial benefit of having access to greater capital to purchase assets, bulk materials, etc., we believe that our Microloan Program will further engrain self-sustainability, empowerment, self-confidence, security, societal and family status, purpose, and respect in the lives of the recipients as they are also walking through our Life-skills Training Program.
Coupled with education in sewing and entrepreneurship, this financial opportunity will benefit families in both the present and future, as children learn healthy business practices from their mothers to impact generations to come.
Here in Zambia, traditional lending companies have been known to charge upwards at 40% interest on microloans for impoverished and illiterate people, who lack assets, capital, steady employment and therefore, banking opportunities. We want to counteract that oppression that only keeps poverty recirculating in the lives of the vulnerable. Studies show that when a woman generates her own income, she is likely to re-invest 90% of it into her family and her community. We already know that the women in our skills training program are positively impacting their families and communities, but this Loan Program will just further assert that benefit.
Microloans are only one tool in the complicated solution to poverty. Money doesn’t fix poverty, and we get that. We are simply giving the vulnerable access to capital they wouldn’t otherwise be able to acquire due to their societal position. We are partnering this financial benefit with our other strategies of education in sewing, business, and health for increased impact and sustainable community benefit.
We are excited to see applications come to life as women dream and plan to open boutiques to sell handmade garments, bakeries, grocery stands, even community schools, all with the mindset of doing so to benefit their families and their communities. We feel this Microloan Program has the ability to apply the education we offer through our program in the greatest, most sustainable and effective way.
We look forward to sharing stories along the way as we dive into this world of microloans, and are glad to have you along for the ride.
With Chikondi (Love), Amy, Founder & Executive Director