The Micro-credit revolving loan (MCRL) Program was first initiated in 2008 in Uganda. SSF started with 25 women in 5 separate base community groups with an initial fund of US $20,000. Since then, the fund has grown to over US $250,000. As of December 2021, the MCRL had 3,258 female clients active in 14 base community groups from 24 different villages. Effectively, there is a 99% repayment rate on loans disbursed, largely due to the trust established between the women in each group, and trust of the program’s field support staff.
SSF- Malawi has adopted the best processes exemplified in Uganda. Revitalized in May of 2022, a group of 28 women have once again been given support from SSF through the efforts of Cynthia (Cee) Maulidi, SSF’s Program Manager. The goal is to expand this program to another base community group and village in the rural areas outside of Lilongwe. Much like the microfinance clients in Uganda, these women are encouraged to adopt a “savings culture” to shoulder unforeseen expenses that undoubtedly emerge given their living in resource-compromised communities.
In partnership with Sovereign Core, SSF is readying itself to embark on a similar investment program within black (African Diaspora) ethnocultural communities in the Durham Region, Ontario, Canada. Discussions are underway with Firestarters to examine how it is that unbankable women can come together (similar to the Ugandan and Malawian base community groups) to invest and grow capital even though the formal banking system has systematically ignored them. Their community-based efforts are replicated on MCRL process models that SSF has developed in both Malawi and Uganda, a powerful and moral example of how the south can powerfully influence development in the north.
SSF has collected numerous stories of success. Caroline’s story is one of hundreds that speak to a participatory development approach that addresses more than poverty reduction. Her story also speaks to an integrated model whereby health, water, sanitation, and education are informed by mbuntu principles.
Caroline Nabasumba and her husband, John, currently care for eleven (11) children in their home, six of which are biologically their own. In an attempt to meet these needs, Caroline borrowed US $100.00 from a formal institution, but the interest was too high and it was difficult to repay.
Caroline first became involved with SSF in 2006 when community members identified her as “someone with a heart for others”. These attributes enabled her to become a “ssenga”, a mentor (paternal aunt) in her Ugandan community. SSF training honed her skills in counseling and guidance, as well as educational knowledge on HIV/AIDS, STIs and reproductive health.
Due to these positive experiences in health-related programs with vulnerable youth, she attended a SSF-sponsored community meeting in 2008 where she heard about SSF’s micro-credit revolving loan (MCRL) program. Caroline became a part of a group of women chosen to receive loans and be educated in financial and entrepreneurial skills. With the support of her “base community group” of women, Caroline has purchased and improved a banana and coffee plantation, a new home with iron sheeting was built, a motorcycle used as a taxi was purchased, and 5 goats and a 10,000 litre water tank was purchased (through 6 loan cycles). Profits from these investments have allowed her to meet the scholastic needs of her children — all but two have completed and advanced to higher education. Caroline and John (her husband) are now able to provide for all household necessities, food and medical needs, and have been able to repay all of the loans. They work together to support the family and their income.