Pro-Microfinance International

The vision of Pro-Microfinance International is to be a pioneering microfinance institution in Africa, by providing financial services to the most inaccessible regions of the continent. Using local social networks and in-kind loans, Pro-Microfinance International will be able to provide desperately needed credit and income generation assistance to those underserved by formal credit systems.Pro-Microfinance International's mission is to empower women and men irrespective.
Sep 22, 2014

Micro-Savings: Another piece of Microfinance

Noelle Bangu, a shop assistant and client of PMI
Noelle Bangu, a shop assistant and client of PMI

Access to microcredit is often highlighted as a key tool in alleviating poverty. Yet other services often considered complimentary, such as micro-savings, micro-insurance and trainings, are sometimes in themselves a critical service for users.

 Take, for instance, Pro-Microfinance DR Congo’s ‘Bwakisa Carte’ program, or “savings by card” program. Costing roughly .50 USD for users, members are visited daily by a Pro-Microfinance agents and asked to deposit an amount of their choice with Pro-Microfinance. The agent keeps the deposit of the member in an account for them. At the end of the month, participants can withdraw their savings or continue with another round. Based on a savings model indigenous to the region, the program appeals to busy vendors who deal with small amounts of cash on a daily basis- and for whom a little bit saved is a little bit earned.

 Pro-Microfinance USA’s chief process officer Julia Smith visited over two dozen Bwakisa Carte members on September 11, 2014. Members were asked how long they participated in the program, why they participated in the program, and what could be done to improve the program.

 Mama Dokas, for instance, is a salted and dried fish vendor originally from Bukavu, South Kivu. With the support of her husband, she started buying her merchandise before becoming a member of the Bwakisa Carte programe in 2013. She’s waiting to save more in order to be able to open a regular savings account with Pro-Microfinance, which will give her access to higher amounts of credit. She hasn’t applied for any microloan yet, but appreciates that the Pro-Microfinance staff are reliable in their collection- meaning she doesn’t have to take time off her long work schedule to also visit her bank.

 Mama Tibisa, on the other end of the market, helps her older sister manage a Malewa, or a small food vending stand. She also hasn’t yet taken a microloan from Pro-Microfinance, but just being a part of the Bwakisa Carte program helps her save towards paying for larger costs, such as her children’s school fees and rent. Mam Kisungu, a mother of three and a vendor of raw beans, says she joined the program because she realized that if she saved her money, she could purchase larger sacks of beans. She also appreciates that having savings helps her to be capable of solving problems that might arise, instead of depending on others. 

 Mama Joline, Antoine, and Astrid are three bean sellers who work together and are all members of the Bwakisa Carte. Mama Joline echos Mama Tibisa, saying “It’s helpful to avoid spending money during the day. When we keep it, in such small amounts it’s not useful. But when we save it, its enough to cover bigger expenses, like our monthly rent”.

 Members of the Bwakisa Carte program are also eligible to apply for PMI’s credit products and receive microloans of up to 300 USD. But for many of the clients visited, being able to manage their savings is a first, and last, step in meeting cash-flow shortages.

When savings alone can enable vendors to reinvest in their stock and cover household expenses, the act of collecting savings for members becomes a key tool itself in managing and overcoming the challenges of being a small-scale vendor in DRC.

Mama Akan has 4 kids, and sells food since 1991
Mama Akan has 4 kids, and sells food since 1991
Jun 3, 2014

Community Shamba Project

Students at the school Garden
Students at the school Garden

Pro-microfinance is pleased to present a new project, The Community Shamba Project, developed by several of its board members.

 The Community Shamba Project is an initiative to create a collaborative network of school gardens that use sustainable, integrative agriculture practices, based on the principles of Permaculture. The word “Shamba” means farm” in Swahili.  The initiative will start with a pilot project in the city of Butembo in the Northeastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in Central Africa.

 Permaculture design empowers people to strengthen the connections between aspects of life such as food, shelter, water, sanitation, community and local economics to reduce work and the need for income generation while increasing overall abundance through mutually supportive and productive systems. 

 This project will be launched with a two-week, hands-on permaculture design training in October 2014. Thirty participants will be selected from local schools, communityorganizations and farm cooperatives. 

The course will be led by Aaron Kalala and Joseph Lentunyoi, certified Permaculture Design Instructors.

Joseph is the lead trainer and consultant for PRI-Kenya, bringing a wealth of teaching experience to the table. Joseph has experience teaching and implementing permaculture in a variety of contexts, from the drylands of Laikipia and Somaliland to the coast of Tanzania and the varied landscapes of California.

 Aaron is from the DRC, and recieved his Permaculture Design  Certificate in 2007 in Tanzania, taught by Geoff Lawton. Since then, he has trained over 56 women on growing food and conservation in the Congo Basin and has participated in numerous other trainings. Aaron also established a Permaculture demonstration garden at an eco-village located in Uvira, DRC. He speaks French, English, Swahili, and Lingala and other local DRC languages.

 The Fall 2014 initiative will be the first of what will become a network of sustainable gardens using Permaculture design principles to create food security, increase self-sufficiency, and honor the environment with integrative agriculture principals.

 DRC is one of the most malnourished countries in the world, and many children rely on the meals they receive at school to sustain them. Having future gardens for food production located within the schools will give children access to healthy food, while at the same time being able to learn and implement the soil-enriching techniques found in Permaculture, so that a greater variety of food can be grown with an increased nutritional value. This can provide families long-term food producing self-sufficiency, and will help in reducing depletion of the surrounding ecosystem.

 Your donation will be instrumental in helping our organization to provide our recipients with agricultural training and tools that lead to building strong families and communities.

With many thanks in advance for your generous support.

In appreciation,

Kym Park,

PMI Board Secretary 

Feb 18, 2014

Our Rent to Own program

A Rent to Own Program beneficiary
A Rent to Own Program beneficiary

Dear Supporters,

We are delighted to inform you that 2014 is off to a great start with Pro-Microfinance. In July 2013, Pro-Microfinance expanded its activities to Kinshasa, a city with a population of about 12 million people. With less than 5% of the population having access to financial services and an over 80 % rate of unemployment.  PMI has launched a “Rent to Own” program, where small entrepreneurs are given the opportunity to rent equipment that they own once they have paid the cost of the equipment. 

With PMI’s “Rent to Own” program, motorbike taxi drivers, for example, deposit payments on their account at PMI, until the whole cost of a motorbike rented is paid off.  The program, in partnership with local businesses, helps  motorbike taxi drivers to become owners and improve their income, rather than driving for someone else who poorly pays them. With an average income of $20 a day, $15 usually goes to a private motorbike owner, and only $5 to the driver. If the driver happens to make less than $20, he will get less than $5 that day, as he cannot compromise the $15 for the owner of the motorbike. 

PMI’s “Rent to Own” program helps entrepreneurs find a pathway to become the owner of the motorbike -and other business assets- at the end of the process.  This program triples and quadruples their income, and helps them to better be able to support their families. We thank you for you support to PMI in previous years and in the years to come. Programs like these are what make our work meaningful, and we promise to keep you updated along the way!  

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