Monday, August 18, 2008

Learning About Micro-Finance

By Cynthia Price, Director of Communications

In the afternoon we learn about a micro-finance program that originally was begun by CCF, but is now operated independently, although CCF still serves a technical role. The Institution Mutualiste Communautaire d’Epargne et de Credit (IMCEC) is a credit union created to serve families living in the communities where CCF programs are engaged in sponsorship and child-focused development programs. Ousmane Thiongane is the executive director.

Along a busy commercial street, a tent is erected in front of the office. Under the tent more than 50 people are gathered, mostly women, several of whom will be given loans.

The loans enable the individuals to improve their lives because they are able to start a business and, ultimately, earn income. The program also includes a health insurance component, which provides peace of mind for the participants.

CCF President Anne Goddard hands out the checks to the individuals, immediately brightening the day of the recipients. "I hope the loans make your time, energy, and income better – for you, for your husband, and for your children," Anne says.

One woman is using the loan to start a shoe business. Another is opening a fabric shop. Fatou Thiam is excited to receive the loan. "I’ve always had to rely on myself." She used to sell fabrics but became ill and was no longer able to work. Now that she is healthy, the loan will help her to get started in business again.

"This makes my life better," she said.

She looks forward to the day when she no longer needs a loan. "That will be when I have a big cash flow," she said with a smile. For now, she can use the loan to buy fabric for her shop.

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