May 23, 2011

A Update on the Micro Loans For Women in Zambia

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 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

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.


Feb 24, 2011

Health Care for HIV Positive Children in Zambia

Executive Summary

The Power of Love team would like to thank donors who supported "Healthcare for HIV Positive Children in Zambia". With support from donors such as you, we provide food, medicines, and essential life-saving health services to 150 HIV positive children in the Matero compound in Lusaka, Zambia. The package of services provided to children includes weekly health check-ups from Community Health workers, monthly visits from the Project Nurse, psychosocial counseling, and adherence monitoring and training. In addition, we provide ongoing training in HIV/AIDS care for children and support to caregivers (most of them are grandmothers) of the children.


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. POL empowers women (many of them grandmothers caring for multiple orphaned grandchildren) and makes them self-reliant through the following  multi-pronged approach: (1) by providing food, medicines and a package of health care services to the children, (2) by training mothers/grandmother/extended family caregivers in caring for their HIV infected children and orphans, (3) by providing them with micro loans and business training to start a small business, and (4) by providing long lasting insecticide treated nets to children and families vulnerable to Malaria. As a result of this comprehensive approach, over the last six years we have had a total of 235 children in our program and have lost 10 children to AIDS. Statistically, we could have lost 40 children or more as life expectancy of an HIV positive child is just five years at birth. More importantly most of the children are back in school. To learn more visit

Some of the achievements of this program over the last six months are given below.

  1. We continue to provide food, medicines, and weekly health visits to all the children enrolled in POL’s program in Lusaka, Zambia. The addition of a high protein soya supplement (particularly for very sick children), has accelerated their weight-gain process. The soya supplement is now a regular component of the food package. As a result, the diet and nutrition level of all families has improved leading to increased weight, fewer infections, and higher CD4 counts leading to a delay in the start of antiretroviral (ARV) medication. Finally, improved nutrition and continuous medical care has led to a higher school attendance. POL added 20 children to the program (and discharged 5) to bring the total to 150 HIV positive children. To date, 140 children have been tested and all are HIV positive. Ten children along with their caregivers will be tested in March 2011. Out of the 140 HIV positive children, 81 are on ARV’s. As the numbers show 100% of the children are HIV positive and 58% are on ARV’s.  This highlights the need to provide all children with food, medicines and weekly visits by the health care worker/Nurse and to provide continuous monitoring of the health and medication regimen of the children on ARV’s. To date 150 children are direct beneficiaries of food and another 1100 children are indirect beneficiaries.
  2. In January 2011, 20 new children were enrolled in the program (5 children were discharged as they turned nineteen in January 2011, bringing the total number of children to 150). Training in HIV/AIDS care was provided to 20 caregivers. Training provided to caregivers is a crucial element of the ARC program as this ensures that the child is under the care of a trained caregiver 24/7. As a result of this training, family care givers are able to identify infections, and get treatment before the infection escalates into something serious and compromises the child’s health. Also, as a result of this training family care givers are able to provide better care to children in their household/community who are not enrolled in our program. After completion of training, caregivers have a better understanding of HIV and are motivated to go in for testing for HIV for themselves and encourage others in the community too. 
  3. As a result of an improvement in the health of the children, the number of opportunistic infections has been reduced. Overall, as a result of the continuous care provided to the children they are all stable in health. Proof of this provided the fact that since the inception of the ARC program, we have lost only 10 children and none have died at home. This is an astounding statistic since an HIV+ child has a life expectancy of 4-5 years in Zambia and mathematically, we could have lost at least 35-40 children to date.  
  4. All children who are eligible for school are attending school. We had 54 children who were unable to attend school due to lack of funds. In 2010, our program provided support (in terms of books, school bags, uniforms, and shoes) to all 54 children so that they are all in school. For a profile of some of the beneficiaries of this program see Annex 2, page 17 below.
  5. All children who are on ARV’s are being monitored to ensure adherence to their medication regime. So far all patients are adhering fairly well to their regimens. Most of the older children know their status and are able to adhere to the medications schedule on their own with minimal support from their care givers. Pill boxes are provided to older children to help them adhere to their medication regimen, and pediatric medicine spoons are provided to caregivers of younger children so that caregivers can give the exact dosage to the child.
  6. All children are being provided with psychosocial counseling. Children need counseling for the following reasons: a. children suffer from fear of loss as soon as a parent is diagnosed with HIV, b. children have to deal with the stigma associated with the disease, and c. if the child is orphaned she/he may have to leave familiar surroundings and may not be readily accepted by the extended family. As a result, counseling is an important part of the child’s mental health and counseling of children and family members has become an important part of our ARC program.
  7. Older children who are aware of their status are also provided education on HIV prevention, and risky sexual behaviors.
  8. All of our Community Care Assistants (CCA’s) are trained in child counseling. In addition, the CCA’s are given continuous practical and refresher training in care of HIV positive children. 
  9. Community Care Assistants attended a one day workshop to enhance their skills in breast cancer and cervical cancer counseling and identification. After training, 87 caregivers were provided with counseling, and screening for cervical and breast cancer. Two caregivers were treated successfully.

Long Term Measurable Outcomes

 Some of the metrics we used to evaluate our program include survival rates, decrease in the number of opportunistic infections, increased attendance in school, malnutrition in children before and after enrollment in the program, and testing for HIV.  Our program has done well on all of the above metrics. 

To sum, as a result of the continuous quality care provided to the children, and training to their care givers, all children are stable in health and are living close to normal lives. As of January 2011, the ARC program benefits 150 children directly and indirectly benefits an additional 1100 children. For more information visit

Future Plans

 At this time, we are raising funds to continue to (i) provide food, medicines and life-saving health care services to all children in our program, (ii) train an additional 100 caregivers/grandmothers in HIV/AIDS care, (iii) ensure that all caregivers continue to be tested for cervical cancer and breast cancer screening, (vi) add a strong HIV “testing and prevention” program for the caregivers of the children to make this a more comprehensive model (with prevention, treatment, care, and economic empowerment)...


In summary, this program has increased survival rates of children in the Matero compound in Lusaka, Zambia and significantly improved the quality of life of their families. The program is comprehensive as it takes care of physical (food, medicines, malaria bed nets, training provided to caregivers), social (education, cultural), and psychological (counselling, peer groups) needs of the women and children. 

Feb 24, 2011

Micro Loans for Women impacted by HIV/AIDS in Zambia

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

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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