The MCRL program is currently recognized as the signature piece of the Salama SHIELD Foundation (SSF).
Impoverished women are provided with loans through the support and accountability structures of base community groups. Effectively, there is a 99.9% repayment rate on these loans. In instances where there is a default on the loan, other members of the base community group pay back a portion of the loan defaulted, the whole loan (re-cooping from their collected savings), or the loans are forgiven by SSF on compassionate grounds. SSF also offers a “grace period”. In essence, there is flexibility given for the repayment of loans when unexpected costs associated with illness, death in the family, or other personal crises emerge. Loans are expected to be repaid within 6 months at 2%/month. According to management, organizational, and economic researchers from the USA and Canada, this success is attributed to the trust established between the women in the base community groups, trust of SSF, and recognized trust in themselves as individuals with the capacity to succeed.
As of October 2017, the micro-credit revolving loan (MCRL) program has [insert number] active clients represented in [insert number] base community groups from [insert number] villages.
SSF’s micro-finance program targets un–bankable women, those too poor to qualify for loans, lack collateral, and who are economically dependent on their husbands. In SSF’s MCRL program, women become a part of a base community group (an intentional community of care and support) of from 5-25 other women from their village, so that no one woman is left alone to support her family when a husband dies or abandons her. With the educational support of the SSF Microfinance team, loan recipients take part in a business-training program where they learn skills such as savings and record keeping, group dynamics, financial and project management, entrepreneurship and business skills, managing an enterprise for profitability, and resource mobilization.
The MCRL program allows repaid interest to be re-loaned to current members who want access to bigger loans, or alternatively, are provided to new members joining the group. Small businesses are often formed around agriculture and animal husbandry, agri-business, retail, or other essential services.
The program started in 2008 with just 5 women’s groups (comprising 25 women) and with an initial fund of Uganda Shillings [UGX1*] 3,000,000 (approximately US $857.00). It has grown to a fund of over [insert number], which is approximately US [insert number]. Clients are encouraged to save, with the average savings per month ranging between UGX 3,000 (around 85 cents) and UGX 5,000 (approximately US $1.42) per client with an average observed minimum of UGX 2,000 (US $ 0.57) and a maximum of UGX 150,000 (US $ 42.00) saved per client each month.
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.