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IRFF Peace Microfinance Program in Afghanistan
Name of Project: IRFF Afghanistan Peace Micro Finance Program
Date: May 24, 2007- January 6, 2008
Location: First VO Area: Qala-e- Moosa, Kabul, Afghanistan
Umberto Angelucci, Fist Street, Karte-Char, Kabul Afghanistan,
mobile: 0093 799 306 841,
Coordinator of VO: Ms. Fahima Hamidi, mobile 0093 700-587525
Brief Report of the Project:
Initial Loan: 4,000 ($80)
Interest Rate: 15% ($12)
Compulsory Savings; 1550 ($31)
In 2007 IRFF Afghanistan in cooperation with Afghanistan Women’s Council started a Village Organization of 25 women to give them small loans for one year period to improve their financial situation. The program is based on the BRAC Bank Micro Finance Program. We are now in the eight month of the first year loan.
In May the coordinator surveyed the area and found needy families. For one month the families were assessed to see if they would support their women (female family members) in this project and to see if she had a good plan for her investment. Support and training was given by the cooperating organization Afghanistan Women’s Council (AWC) when needed. After the women were selected they were asked to make a condition of trust by contributing 25 Afghani (fifty cents) to the organizers for six weeks. This money was deposited into their account and will be returned to them at the end of the first year, ($3) with their other compulsory savings.
After the selection process the VO Coordinator began to give out the loans in August. The loans were distributed to five of the qualified women each week adding five women each week. After the loans were delivered the VO women met with their VO Coordinator and returned 100 afghani ($2) towards their loan and 25 afghani as savings.
At this meeting they broke up into smaller groups and discuss their progress and problems. The group tried to work together to learn from each other’s progress and solving any problems. They also received basic education on the vision and work of IRFF and their achievements for world peace. At the end of the year, as a result of paying 125 afghani each week for 46 weeks, they will pay back the loan of 4,000 afghani plus make at least 1500 afghani ($30) in savings for them to keep.
Advantages of program:
• The VO coordinator has been trained by BRAC Bank and is very experienced in this field.
• Each week she has a chance to meet the women to deepen relationships and to check their progress. This is a chance to give guidance and education.
• This program encourages saving which is a needed, a lesson to learn in post war countries. The women are taught to systematically save their money by giving extra money each week which is returned at the end of the loan period.
• Before the program begins there is an aspect which tests the recipient’s trustworthiness to ensure the reliability of the women.
• Also the women are all from the same village so they know each other and can support each other.
• The selection process is good therefore we find that the women are very faithful in their payments and help and support each other when needed.
Disadvantages of programs:
• Working in a Muslim country puts limitations on our work. Our beneficiaries are women and therefore we are limited in our relationship, since the director is a man he is not able to visit the VO freely and must work solely through the women coordinator.
• Because the program phases are one year each, it takes time to complete one phase and move on.
• Sometimes the women need training and education before they can start their own business endeavor and an investment is risky unless they have family support. A survey of the family situation is necessary which takes at least one month for each family before we award them a loan to guarantee they will be successful.
• Peace Education: As was mentioned, because Afghanistan is a Muslim country our VO consists of women and the Director of the project is a man, there are limitations. Now we are making the plans and foundation necessary to give Peace Education, by the Director, to our VO. After the Peace Education Seminar is completed each member of the VO will receive an Ambassador for Peace Award.
• Other Education: As is needed we would like to give more formal education to the VO
• Phase II: When the first year loan is repaid then the qualified beneficiaries will be able to apply for Phase II which is a loan of 6,000 afghani ($120). In order to offer this we will need an additional $800 investment.
• When this Phase II is complete we can proceed to Phase III. At the end of the three phases the 25 women beneficiaries will be self-sufficient and able to cope with the expenses of their businesses independently.
• At the end of the Phase III 25 women will be self-sufficient business women and with the return of loans plus interest IRFF Afghanistan will be able to begin two new VOs at the beginning stage, without any additional investment.
1. Ms. Afghani, d/o Baz Mhd: She has 6 Children three daughters and three sons. Children are 5-13 years old. Husband is very weak and elderly but still working hard and running a cart to sell vegetable and fruit on it. Most of the time police do not allow him to work; even if he works the income is not enough to support the family. My children and I know how to weave carpets but had no money to start one; since I completed the IRFF skills training I was happy to have loan and run the carpet weaving for myself and hopefully will have my own business. I got a loan and stared my work on carpet weaving. Now we have 1500 -2000 Afs income per month which is more then enough for us.” Also she said there is a small requirement covered by her husband’s income. She said they are very happy and the IRFF loan brought a dramatic change in their life. They are very grateful.
2. Ms. Nafisa, d/o Abd. Ghafoor: She two daughters and four sons between the of ages of 7years and 18 years old. Her husband is working on the street but not bringing in enough for the family. Her sons and daughters are running around in the Bazaar, begging in order to bring something to eat. Since she completed the IRFF skills training course and got a loan she bought a sewing machine and started tailoring. She makes children’s clothes and her daughter and sons sell them in the Bazar instead of begging. She said in the past they owed money to so many people and every one was looking at her daughters to marry them but she paid her lenders and she thinks she will have her daughters marry into good families willingly. She said now their lives have changed for the better with a respectful life and enough to eat which was one of their wishes.
3. Ms. Fahima d/o Aziz: She is not married, she said she had a brother and old father and mother doing nothing, spending time not doing anything constructive while living in poverty. She said, “there is no one among us, my father, mother, my brother and I know who did not help us and we did not borrow money from them.” She got the IRFF awareness course and later on she got a loan from IRFF. She runs poultry and made a small shop for her brother where he sells the eggs. She said now their life has changed and they are very happy making savings and soon will have a bigger business.