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.