Micro Loans For Women Impacted by HIV/AIDS, Zambia

 
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Update on Power of Love's Project “Micro Loans for Women Impacted by HIV/AIDS in Zambia”

As a result of your continued support, we were able to provide business training and small loans to 50 new women “entrepreneurs” in Lusaka, Zambia in 2011. We would like to sincerely thank the Mary D. Fisher Fund and other donors who continue to support this program. Almost all the women who were provided with loans in 2011, are on schedule with their repayments as we continue to monitor the progress of their businesses and suggest ways to increase sales and profits.  We expect this loan cycle to be completed by March 31, 2012 with the women repaying loan capital (approximately $135) with 10% interest rate. Businesses started with this program range from selling bananas along the roadside to brick-and-mortar stores selling cellphone chargers and accessories. Many women distribute fish to local restaurants, fry donut-like snacks for stores, or make their own floor wax. The goal of the program is to empower women and help them to become self-sufficient and able to provide for their families.

One of the unique features of this program is that every woman is either infected with or affected by AIDS, and fewer than 5% have a bank account. As a result, other microfinance organizations typically do not make loans to them. The women are qualified using a community referral system and through several interviews by Power of Love’s microfinance coordinator, Esther Shumba. After a woman is selected for a loan, she undergoes a week of intensive business training, builds a credible business plan, and is assigned to a team with four other women. Each team is held accountable for ensuring that the others in their group are on track with their loan repayment.

One key element of this program is the weekly meetings which have benefited the women significantly in several ways. The women meet once a week to discuss their businesses and how to improve sales, issues connected with care for families who are HIV positive, share their successes and failures and to make their loan repayments. For example, one of the ladies - Alice was having trouble finding a place to sell high-quality soap she was importing from South Africa. Another woman in the program has a brother who owns a small general store, and agreed to rent Alice some shelf space. Alice now has a healthy business importing this soap, has expanded into other product lines, and has laid the foundation on a small home for herself and her two sons. Alice has graduated from Power of Love’s program, but continues to serve as a mentor to other women in the program and is able to send her sons to high school.

Given below is a picture of some of the women singing before the start of their weekly meeting at the Power of Love offices in Lusaka, Zambia. The lady with the cell phone around her neck is Alice, one of the successful graduates of this program.

To sum, the key aspects of the POL microfinance model are: (1) the division of loan recipients into small teams that hold each other accountable; (2) weekly program-wide meetings to share insight and collect repayment; and (3) consistent business training, including an initial course, a refresher course, and mentoring from successful program graduates.

Next Steps: At this time we are in the process of setting up a partnership with FINCA, the largest provider of microloans in Zambia and a major presence worldwide (distributed $800 million in loans in 2011). Many women, like Alice Bamba above, have graduated from Power of Love’s microfinance program and have built successful businesses, but are eager to invest more capital and grow their business to the next level. Power of Love and FINCA have agreed to send such women to the FINCA branch in the community of Matero (where are program is located), with the intent of building a relationship that allows POL to refer women directly to the FINCA branch in Matero and help integrate the women into FINCA’s village banking model.

To date, this program has provided 450 loans to women impacted by HIV/AIDS in Zambia and improved the lives of over 4000 people in the community of Matero in Lusaka, Zambia. At this time we have 160 women who are on this program and running successful businesses.

Power of Love’s micro loans program helps women impacted by HIV/AIDS take the first steps towards breaking the cycle of poverty, acquiring a marketable skill and becoming self-reliant. In addition we monitor the businesses and provide business expertise to all loan beneficiaries to ensure the success of their businesses. Your support goes a long way in improving the lives of women and families impacted by HIV/AIDS in Zambia. Microfinance has transformed the lives of many poor mothers and grandmothers in AIDS-stricken Africa and is truly a powerful tool in helping women become self-reliant.

Thanks.

Links:

Update on Power of Love's Project “Micro Loans for Women Impacted by HIV/AIDS in Zambia”

Power of Love’s micro loans program helps women impacted by HIV/AIDS take the first steps towards breaking the cycle of poverty, acquiring a marketable skill and becoming self-reliant. We would like to sincerely thank the Mary D. Fisher Fund and other donors who continue to support this program. It is with your support that we are able to provide business training and small loans to women impacted by HIV/AIDS. In addition we monitor the businesses and provide business expertise to all loan beneficiaries to ensure the success of their businesses. Your support goes a long way in improving the lives of women and families impacted by HIV/AIDS in Zambia. Microfinance has transformed the lives of many poor mothers and grandmothers in AIDS-stricken Africa and is truly a powerful tool in helping women become self-reliant.

In 2011, as a result of your support, we were able to provide business training and small loans to 50 new women “entrepreneurs” in Lusaka, Zambia. In addition we continue to monitor and provide support to the 100 women who were provided with loans and business training in 2010.

Loans provided to 50 new women “entrepreneurs” in September 2011

1. Fifty women were identified (based mostly on need and ability to run a business), who would be provided with loans and business training. A list of the 50 women is given below.

2. Business training was provided to the 50 new women entrepreneurs in September 2011. Training was provided in 2 sessions with 25 women in each session. The 5-day business training was attended and completed successfully by all 50 women.

3. On September 15, 2011 loans were provided to 50 women in the amount of approx. $130 each. The women have started making repayments and we expect that the loan cycle will be completed in 6-8 months.

4. Some of the businesses started by the women are:

a. Groceries (Mille meal, rice, sugar, cooking oil, soap, vegetables, dried fish, dressed chicken, popcorn), b. Used goods (clothes, shoes, handbags), c. Hair salon/ Barber shop, d. Cell phone covers and chargers.

Attached is a picture of one of the women's new hair salon. She now works with her sister and both are building financial stability for their families. The salon owner is proud of her hard work and successful outcome and enjoys giving her clients pleasant feelings about their appearance and contributing to their happiness.

Mechanics of the Micro Loans Program:

The small loans and business training and monitoring successfully enable women to engage in self-employment projects. Loan beneficiaries (a total of 150 women) meet weekly with the loan officer to make loan repayments, and discuss business related issues and issues related to HIV/AIDS, schooling of chidlren with other women entrepreneurs and the loan officer. In addition, individual women meet regularly in groups of four which helps to aid in decision making and provide support for each other. Loan repayments are made in 25 weekly installments. The women who are eligible may receive up to 3 loans over 1 ½- 2 years. At present there are 150 loans in process with a 85- 90% repayment rate @ 10% interest.

Impact of the Micro Loans Program

On average each women provides care to 7-8 people in her household. This means that the total of 150 loans benefit 1100 people directly and an additional 1100 people indirectly as our loan beneficiaries talk to other women and encourage them to go in or testing, take medicines and start a new business to become self- reliant. These loans help a poor household meet basic needs, protect against unexpected financial expenses and help keep the children in school. For some women there is a dramatic improvement in standard of living so they may even graduate out of poverty. For all involved there is perceived improvement in gender equality, improved economic welfare, and a sense of wellbeing and self-empowerment. Some of our women entrepreneurs have become role models not only for other women in the community but for men as well. All of the above indicate that this program is making a significant difference in the lives of several thousand people in Zambia and we expect this change to be sustained over a long period of time.

Appendix - Names of New Women Entrepreneurs Provided Loans in 2011

NAMES

1 Jane Phiri

2. Nancy Simukonda

3. Brenda Mwansa

4. Diana Chulu

5. Elestina Z. Moyo

6. Mary Malunga

7. Claudia Fellouis

8. Mary Ngoma

9. Milika Mwanza

10. Adina Miti

11. Malibisa Malibisa

12. Mary Mbinda

13. Bethar Shumba

14. Alice Miti

15. Caroline Mumba

16. Getrudy Mvula

17. Esther Tembo

18. Florence Kwanja

19. Margaret Zinkata

20. Monica Makolesa

21. Esther Matukuta

22. Fllornce Nzumba

23. Ireen Chikota

24. Doreen Phiri

25. Ireem Chuma

26. Wintness Nyirongo

27. Dorothy Mbewe

28. Pamela Chiwe

29. Anna Muyanga

30. Agnes Kakoma

31. Helen Temo

32. Susan Zulu

33. Sharon kunda

34. Mwenya Chilekwe

35. Malesiyana Bunda

36. Mary Ngoma

37. Eunice Banda

38. Musanide Mwenda

39. Margaret Lungu

40. Chewe Chota

41. Josephine Ngulube

42. Ines Mwale

43. Doreen Chipasha

44. Jane Mulenga

45. Faides Khuni

46. Juatina Banda

47. Alice Mudima

48. Charity Cuma

49. Erika Kayuni

50. Doric Cheleshe

Links:

Ephram Mwanza
Ephram Mwanza

Power of Love’s micro loans program helps women impacted by HIV/AIDS take the first steps towards breaking the cycle of poverty, acquiring a marketable skill and becoming self-reliant. We would like to sincerely thank the Mary D. Fisher Fund and other donors who continue to support this program. It is with your support that we are able to continue providing micro loans, business training, and monitor and provide business expertise to all loan beneficiaries to ensure the success of their businesses.

In 2010, Power of Love provided 115 new loans and business training to women impacted by HIV/AIDS in Zambia. In 2011, we have continued to provide business consultation, monitor businesses, and discuss loan related issues with the women in meetings held every week. In addition, our goal is to provide 50 new loans and business training to women in the next three months. The majority the community in the Matero compound in Lusaka is impoverished (most individuals are unemployed and have little education) and lives on less than $1 per day. The current micro loans program has been hugely successful in improving the quality of lives of the people in the community. These microloans have had a direct impact on the recipient’s lives: the women are earning money regularly and bringing that back to their families, the nutrition and diet of the children and their mothers has improved, almost all of the children are subsequently healthy and therefore back in school, women have come forward to be tested for HIV, and loan recipients have set a new standard as role models in their community.. This program has benefited more than 390 women directly and 3,000 people indirectly (on average POL’s loan recipients provide care for four children and three elderly people at home). In addition, since our micro loans program complements our pediatric AIDS care program we are seeing a positive and sustainable long term impact in the community. Given below is a profile of a family that has benefited from Power of Love’s micro loans program.

Picture below is Ephram. Ephram is 7 years old and lives with his grandmother. Ephram’s grandmother was provided business training and a small loan by POL to start a business. The business run by Ephram’s grandmother is doing well and as a result, the diet and nutrition of the family has improved.

Ephram’s parents are HIV positive. His father divorced his mom as she is epileptic. Ephram enrolled in Power of Love’s pediatric AIDS program in 2005, as he was suffering from TB. He tested positive for HIV, and began ARV medication. Ephram receives nutritional and medical support from the Power of Love Foundation. He was also provided with school shoes and uniform. Ephram is studying in grade 1 at a school in Chunga. His adherence to medication is good and as a result his health is stable.

A Report on Power of Love’s Project: “Micro Loans for Women Impacted by HIV/AIDS in Zambia” By Alka Subramanian, Ph.D Executive Summary Microfinance has transformed the lives of many poor mothers and grandmothers in AIDS-stricken Africa: it is truly a powerful tool in helping women become self-reliant. Power of Love’s micro loans program helps women impacted by HIV/AIDS take the first steps towards breaking the cycle of poverty, becoming skilled and self-reliant. We would like to sincerely thank the Mary D. Fisher Fund and the others who have supported this program. It is with your support that we are able to continue providing micro loans, business training, and monitor and provide business expertise to all loan beneficiaries to ensure the success of their businesses.

In 2010, Power of Love provided 115 new loans and business training to women impacted by HIV/AIDS in Zambia. In 2011, we have continued to provide business consultation, monitor businesses, and discuss loan related issues with the women in meetings held every week. In the next two months alone, we will provide 50 new loans to women. The majority the community in the Matero compound in Lusaka is impoverished (most individuals are unemployed and have little education) and lives on less than $1 per day. The current micro loans program has been hugely successful in improving the quality of lives of the people in the community. These microloans have had a direct impact on the recipient’s lives: the women are earning money regularly and bringing that back to their families, the nutrition and diet of the children and their mothers has improved, almost all of the children are subsequently healthy and therefore back in school, women have come forward to be tested for HIV, and loan recipients have set a new standard as role models in their community.. This program has benefited more than 390 women directly and 3,000 people indirectly (on average POL’s loan recipients provide care for four children and three elderly people at home). In addition, since our micro loans program complements our pediatric AIDS care program we are seeing a positive and sustainable long term impact in the community.

Power of Love's microloan program is specifically designed for women caring for the HIV-infected and the sick in their community. These amazing women battle poverty on a daily basis to care for their grandchildren, family and neighbors. We’ve seen it happen time and again: once a woman receives a loan, she is able to transform her and her family’s life. Many of the women go from breaking stones for a living or cleaning streets to owning their own small business, while others graduate from owning a small roadside stand with a few items to a concrete store and sometimes even more than one business.

To read their powerful stories, visit http://www.poweroflove.org/2011-stories-women-who-received-micro-loans-power-love. As a result of this program, women who received loans and business training have started small businesses and are more confident about their family’s future. They have learned how to manage their own small business that supports better food, clothing and education for their children, they understand the importance of keeping children in school, they are coming forward for voluntary testing of HIV (to date more than 150 women have come forward for testing of HIV), and they are taking measures to prevent the spread of infection. Most importantly, these women have become role models not only for other women in the community, but for men as well.In addition, we see a cultural change as men become more engaged in family life and more dedicated to providing for their families. This program is unique as there are very few micro loans programs for women who are infected or impacted by the HIV/AIDS crisis. For more information, visit http://www.poweroflove.org/microfinance-tools-aids-care-mtac.

We are proud to say that POL’s microloan program has been successful, no matter the metric. Loan repayments rates range between 92-94% - extraordinary, but especially so given the harsh environment in which these women live and work. The success of this program has largely been the result of POL’s hands-on approach: weekly meetings with the loan beneficiaries, monthly field visits to the businesses by the loan officer, and the accessibility of the loan officer in case the women run into some kind of problem with their business. In addition, our staff on the ground is 100% Zambian, and provides strong on-the-ground leadership. Program Monitoring to Ensure Success of the Women’s Businesses In order to ensure that the women are using the skills learned during business training and are on track with their repayments, the loan officer keeps in close contact with the loan recipients and communicates with them regularly. Regular monitoring of the businesses is done via weekly meeting and field visits as follows: (i) All loan recipients meet weekly with the loan officer. In this meeting the women discuss progress/problems with their business, health of their family and children, additional ways to earn money, the importance of keeping children in school etc. The women discuss any problems they may have with the business, and are provided with workable solutions. The loan officer is present to answer any loan-related questions (for example how much is the repayment amount, etc.). (ii) The loan officer visits the women’s businesses on a monthly basis to advise them on location, inventory items, and quantities, etc. Progress of the women’s businesses is documented via pictures and reports. (iii) At the end of the loan cycle, the loan officer administers a questionnaire to the women and asks for feedback regarding the loan process.

Given below is a list of program expenses that are incurred to run the loan program. These expenses include: compensation for the loans officer, cost of refresher training for ongoing loans, business consultation to the women entrepreneurs via field visits to their businesses, monitoring businesses, and evaluating the program to increase efficacy. The total cost of running the loan program for 115 beneficiaries is approximately $5698 for 9 months (or $5.50 per loan per month). For a more detailed breakdown of these program costs, please see the Table below. Program Expenses to Administer, Monitor, and Provide Business Consultation to 115 Beneficiaries for Nine Months Type of Expense Cost per Month ($) Number of Months Total Cost ($) 1. Compensation for Loans Officer 275 9 2,475 2. Monthly Field Visits to monitor 197 9 1,773 115 businesses (includes transport, cell phone, photocopies) 3. Business Mentorship Meeting for 766 Held once every 766 for 115 women (includes six months compensation for consultant, venue rental costs, meeting costs) 4. Weekly Meetings for 9 months 76 9 684 (includes venue rental costs, meeting costs) Total $5,698 Thank you once again for your continued support to this program. Together we have made huge strides in helping women impacted by HIV/AIDS in Zambia to become entrepreneurs and move towards self-reliance.

Links:

Executive Summary

The Power of Love team would like to thank donors who supported "Micro loans for Women Impacted by HIV/AIDS in Zambia". With support from donors such as you, we provide small loans and business training to women impacted by HIV/AIDs in Lusaka, Zambia. The MF program complements our pediatric AIDS care program and as a result we are seeing a long term impact in the community. In 2010, Power of Love provided 115 new loans and business training to women caregivers. As a result of these loans that provide regular earnings to the family, nutrition and diet of the women and their families has improved, most of the children are back in school due to better health, and loan recipients have become role models in their community for both men and women. This program has benefited more than 390 women directly and an additional 3000 people indirectly (assuming 8 people on average in a household). 

Power of Love's Micro loans Program

At POL, we believe that the long term solution to the HIV/AIDS crisis lies with the local community itself and that empowering women and making them self-reliant is a key component in solving the global HIV/AIDS crisis. Power of Love’s micro loans program empowers women by making them economically independent and with regular earnings they are able to have a better diet and keep their children in school. Traditionally, micro-finance has not been used to fight the AIDS epidemic (due to loan-grantee mortality, orphan care, and single/no adult households etc.). We tailored the traditional micro-finance model to suit the HIV/AIDS environment in Sub-Saharan Africa. The program is a success by every metric traditionally used in evaluating micro-finance ventures (repayment rates are over 90%). For more information visit http://poweroflove.org/microfinance-women-summary.

Impact of the Program

As a result of the businesses started with loan money, the diet of several families has improved significantly with many women reporting that they can now afford 2-3 meals a day as opposed to a single meal before they started the business. In addition, the children are healthier so that they miss fewer days of school, and as a result of regular earnings these women can pay for school supplies (books, school bags, shoes, uniforms). In addition, as the women progress successfully through loan cycles there is a marked improvement in the assortment and display of their merchandise. More importantly, women who are on their third or fourth loan cycle have not only become role models for other women but also for other men in the community. Several men are helping their wives run the business. The women are also saving a small amount each week as personal savings and have their own passbooks to record their savings.

Overall, we believe that to date over 5000 children and adults have been directly and indirectly impacted by the program through better nutrition, health, school attendance, learning about HIV prevention, and increased life expectancy. 

Update on Program Achievements

In March 2011, as a result of generous support provided by donors such as you, we will be providing 20 new loans to women impacted by HIV/AIDS in Zambia. At this time we are in the process of identifying new loan recipients. Typically, beneficiaries are women and have at least one child who is HIV positive. On average loan beneficiaries are caring for 4 children, and 3 elderly people at home. This implies that the 20 new loans will benefit at least 160 people directly (assuming an average household size of 8) and many more indirectly.

Once the identification process is completed new loan recipients will be provided with business training, counseling, and loans to start small businesses in the community. Business training includes the following hands-on modules: Market Investigation, Buying, Costing and Pricing, Selling, and Money Management. The training program guides the participants in the selection of their business and detailed analysis of their strategy. Extensive exercises are completed and monitored by the Head Trainer. Lectures complement the hands-on exercises. Loan recipients complete the training in groups of five, further developing their ability to work and learn as a team. Each module is a day-long session and training is completed in one week.

Once the business skills training is completed loans are provided to the women. Traditionally some of the new businesses started by women are:
(i) Sale of dried fish
(ii) Fritters and Pop corn
(iii) Grocery items like vegetables, fruits, beans, soft drinks, mineral water, eggs, dressed chickens, Floor polish, Bags of charcoal, Cakes etc.
(iv) Hardware items
(v) Used clothing

A detailed report of the loan disbursement event and pictures of new businesses started by the women will be posted in April 2011. 

Future Plans

At this time, we are raising funds to provide an additional 75 new loans and business training to women impacted by HIV/AIDS in Zambia. Please donate generously to this program as every dollar goes a long way in improving the quality of life of children and families impacted by HIV/AIDS in Zambia.


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Organization

Project Leader

Alka Subramanian

Founder/Director
San Diego, CA United States

Where is this project located?

Map of Micro Loans For Women Impacted by HIV/AIDS, Zambia