Friday, 21 February 2014

Video updates from Togo part three: “A small loan is like oil in an engine; it allows people to move forward"

Finally, part three of Tracey's video updates from her April 2013 trip to Togo is here! Here are also parts one and two for some context.

To round off my blog/video updates from Togo, I wanted to share with you some lasting impressions from the trip.

The passion and commitment of the WAGES staff

Many of the office staff began their careers as Loan Officers, including the General Manager, Ramanou Nassirou who, when talking about the entrepreneurs said most of them know how to run their business, we just provide them with a small loan to get them started - a small and affordable loan is like oil in a car engine; it allows people to move forward"

I have already written about how WAGES supported clients who lost everything in the massive fires which swept through the great markets of Lomé and Kara last year and this demonstrates further the commitment that WAGES have to improving the lives of their clients. 

Thursday, 6 February 2014

"Liberation loans" offered by our partner in Pakistan to free poor people from spiralling debt

After the 2014 Oscars ceremony, Steve McQueen's film “12 Years A Slave” deservedly took home the big prize of best picture. However, it is important to remind ourselves that the barbaric practice of slavery is not something we can consign to the history books. It is still a contemporary issue in many countries around the world.

The epic 1957 Bollywood film ‘Mother India’ movingly portrays the story of a family struggling to survive against the machinations of a local moneylender. Many decades later this is still one of the rare examples of Indian cinema vividly reflecting the reality faced by millions on the Indian sub-continent, and instances of local moneylenders charging usurious rates of interest remain as prevalent as ever throughout much of South Asia.

As well as providing loans to people wanting to establish or develop their microenterprises, lendwithcare’s partner in Pakistan, Akhuwat, provides ‘liberation loans’ to people who are struggling to repay debt that has been taken from local moneylenders. In most instances, borrowers took out small loans at interest rates of up to 20% per month and the debt has spiralled out of control. Sometimes borrowers have already sold what few assets they own, yet still struggle to keep up with repayments. Shahzad Akram, Akhuwat’s Chief Credit Officer, recalls instances where young borrowers have even committed suicide and some moneylenders demanded that borrowers sell their daughters to repay the debt. In parts of southern Punjab and Sindh it is not uncommon to find borrowers and their children who have been forced to become indentured labourers for feudal landlords as they struggle to repay debts that were often taken out many years ago.