|Back: Bintou, Fatoumata, Selimata, Djelika, Sitan, Front: Bakoro, Tenin|
Like Fatoumata, who is standing second from the left in the back row in the photo, they all grow peanuts which are a staple food of the diet in Mali. Like all of her partners in the group she will use her part of the loan to hire someone to plow her 1 hectare (about 2.5 acre) field, and purchase seeds, fertilizer and herbicides to help control the weeds.
The women work with the microfinance institution Soro Yiriwaso, a partner of Save the Children, in order to access the funds they need to prepare their fields, plant and reap a good harvest. This group is on their fifth farm loan with Soro Yiriwaso and have paid back all their previous loans.
After the harvest, their produce is sold to customers in the village and at nearby markets. Fatoumata anticipates she will make 140,000 francs CFA ($290.00 USD) from selling her produce. This will enable her to pay back her part of the loan, as well as to help in meeting day-to-day family expenses. (Think about it, six months of back-breaking farm work for a payout of $290.00. )
Soro Yiriwaso doesn't just make loans, it also understands in many cases poverty is not just about lack of money, and the alleviation of poverty requires more than access to capital and an understanding of business. So Soro Yiriwaso also has a Family and Community Empowerment program which offers access to health care services and education for its borrowers and their children.
Many of KIVA's microfinance partners offer access to medical care for the borrower and their family members for a small monthly charge. They can receive regular check ups from a physician, as well as low cost medicine and hospital referrals. As you can tell from the photo, several of the ladies were expecting new arrivals when this picture was taken. Access to pre-natal care and a midwife are vital to the survival of Africa's women, where so many die in childbirth or related infections.
The inability to treat health related issues has the potential to cause families to fall back into the cycle of poverty despite running a successful business. Support services also can include educational workshops in disease prevention and domestic violence.
For $25.00 you can help farmers and all kinds of business people in the Third World improve their lives in so many ways by making a small amount of otherwise unattainable credit available to them.
Visit KIVA.org today and find a borrower whose story resonates with you, and lend that 1st $25.00.