Friday, 26 July 2013

Bonjour Yovo (Good morning stranger): Notes from a visit to Benin

  Last week I went to Benin (1). I got out of the plane in Cotonou, the largest city in Benin, as a tropical storm was receding and I was greeted by warm wet air, the sight of palm trees, the wet red soil…. and by the mosquitoes.

 The following morning, the first people who said hello to me were school children. As I made my way past them they all chimed “Good morning, Yovo.” And then smiled at me, I felt I had been welcomed.                                                           

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Video updates from Togo part one: providing small loans to the financially excluded

In April I travelled to Togo to visit WAGES, our local microfinance partner, and a number of the micro-entrepreneurs we have supported through  It was a particularly interesting trip for me because when I first started working for CARE International back in 1997, the “Women & Associations for Gains both Economic and Social” (WAGES) project was in the process of moving away from its origins as a small-scale group lending programme set-up by CARE and was transforming into an independent Microfinance Institution (MFI). I remember how CARE’s end of project evaluation had concluded that the WAGES project  was having such a positive impact on the lives of poor women and in order to help the many more thousands of people who could benefit from micro-loans, WAGES should became an independent entity.  This is why when we set up our initiative in 2010, WAGES was an obvious choice to be one of our very first partners.