Women know about the existence of microcredit financing mainly thanks to other beneficiaries that often live in the same neighborhood. Those interested in having acess to a microcredit should meet other four women interested in order to form groups of five and register to apply for a loan. This is a strategy designed by the foundation to secure the repayment of the credits: if there are problems, they can help one each other. Also, because it is a way of counting with the pressure that the rest of the group can apply. The main requirement is that these women live in the same area and know each other, as well as their business.
Once registered, a field officer of the organization goes to their neighborhood to see how they live and how they run their business. It is in that moment when the first interview is done, based on a standard questionnaire. Women are asked about their lives in general: how many people depend on them, who else contributes to the family economy, what kind of business they conduct or plan to start running, their level of education… With all this information, an assessment of their capital need is made.
One or two weeks after the first interview, another field officer repeats the visit in order to check the answers that the group of women had given, evaluating if they were enough sincere. It is then when the officer decides if the microcredit is granted or not.
Once granted, microcredit repayments are returned on a weekly basis, and must be registered in a book that the foundation gives to the women, which must be constantly updated.
Sometimes loans are denied because there is some irregularity in the initial questionnaire, or some kind of relationship among the women is found. Women from the same group are not allowed to be relatives, because if there is an economic problem in the family, all of them would have problems to make the repayment.
This is a short summary of the procedure followed to get the first microcredit . This week we went to see which are the steps followed to get a second loan. The first thing is a visit of the field officer, that goes to the beneficiaries’ home or business to speak with them about the evolution of their investment. Four main questions are made: how the first credit has influenced their lives, if then women have faced problems to return the money, how is the business running and what they intend to do with the next loan.
These are the stories of three of those women who will be able to access a second microcredit because they are running their businesses really well and are able of making weekly repayments properly.
Mudanaibi Mameno lives in Bondeni, where she runs a guengue , a street stall where she sells vegetables. The first microcredit allowed her to improve the revenue of her business, as well as to start a new one based on selling kitengue, dela, and other local clothes, by cash or by credit. Now, she no longer sells vegetables , because it is not a business as profitable as the clothes. With the next loan, she intends to rent a room to sell different types of clothing, instead of visiting her neighbors’ house.
In the same neighborhood, we also visited Rose Penti, who has always been dedicated to growing and selling her own vegetables. With the first loan she was able of increasing her business because it allowed her to buy more fertilizer, which means to extend the crops, both in quantity and diversity. Furthermore, she also began selling granulated soap in the evenings. With the second microcredit she plans to buy more fertilizer and increase the sales, as well as to improve her way of life by building a new home for herself and her five children.
We take a dala dala to Mtongani, where Mary Andrea Shirima receives us in her shoe store, located in one of the streets that has access to the soko, or local market. Mary has always sold shoes: she first sold plastic shoes (or yebo yebo), but credit allowed to enlarge the store where she sells, as well as to start selling rubber shoes. If she has access to a new microcredit, she wants to continue making bigger her business, which means also to increase her quality of life.