As a Kiva Fellow, I have spent the last four months working with partner organizations in Kampala, Uganda. One of these partners is BRAC where we are developing and launching a new loan product for Kiva’s platform. BRAC Uganda currently offers two types of loans with funding from Kiva for its clients: traditional individual microfinance and the Empowerment and Livelihoods for Adolescents program.
Now BRAC is launching a new loan program as part of a larger multi-organization community-based initiative funded by USAID called “Community Connector”. The program brings together many heavy-hitters in development based in Kampala: Family Health International 360, BRAC, and Grameen Foundation among others.
The program seeks to improve the lives of vulnerable groups in some of the most remote and underserved areas of the country through income-generating activities as well as nutrition and health education. The program encompasses a village savings and loan program, microfinance opportunities, and improved hygiene practices and nutrition for infants and children under two and well as breast-feeding mothers.
I have specifically been focused on the microfinance piece of the initiative since it will be financed by our Kiva lenders around the world! This past week the regional Community Connector Officers traveled to Kampala for microfinance loan training at the BRAC Training Office in Longujja. The training included training on microfinance basics, CC loan details and eligibility, loan proposals and budgets, and collecting data for publication to Kiva lenders. Included throughout this post are some pictures from our Community Connector Officer training.
Groups of Community Connector members will be eligible for microfinance agricultural loans that meet the objectives of the program. Examples of the types of low-interest loans are to help farmers buy seeds, livestock, or related tools that help increase the quantity and value of their crop yields. The loans are what Kiva considers “highly catalytic” since they are riskier due to the nature of the loan, lenders, and repayment ability.
These loans have multiple eligibility factors including the number of women in each borrower group to ensure that the target populations are reached. The program focuses on women as they do the bulk of family farming, childrearing and housekeeping yet are largely excluded from important decisions regarding these activities.
The loans are distinctive in that each group, with the help of a Community Connector Officer in their region, must develop and write their own business proposal and budget for submission before their loan is approved by BRAC. Each loan will be unique to the group including their loan terms: amount, repayment, and maturity.
If the group loan is approved the group must attend some training from a subject-matter specialist within their area related to their loan. For instance if the group loan is going towards a grain mill they must be trained by someone who knows how to properly operate one.
The first Community Connector loans are scheduled to be posted in Summer 2013 with the goal of offering 100 loans to start.
After our microfinance training this week the CCOs walked away equipped with the knowledge to teach local members of their communities about Kiva loans as well as develop their business proposals. Kiva is very excited about these high-impact loans that will reach some of the poorest and most vulnerable groups around Uganda!