A Brief Report on the Achievements of Power of Love’s Micro Loans Program in Lusaka, Zambia
As a result of generous donations from people such as yourself, some of the achievements of the micro loans program in the last 12 months are given below:
- New micro loans given out to 115 women (total of over 375 loans have been provided to women to date).
- Field visits are made on a regular basis and most of the businesses run by the women are doing well. Many women who are on their 3rd or 4th loan have better displays of their products and have made their store atmosphere and layout pretty in order to attract more customers.
- As a result of these loans, 14 children have been enrolled in primary school and 18 children have been enrolled in secondary school. These children were unable to attend school due to lack of funds before their families received loans.
- Attendance in weekly micro finance meetings has improved. At these meetings the women discuss how to run and improve their businesses, care and health of the children in their homes, their own health and HIV status, the decision to go in for voluntary testing and the importance of keeping children in school. As a result of these meetings, women have developed relationships of mutual support with each other, diet and nutrition of all families has improved, 31 families have gone in for voluntary testing and they have encouraged others to do the same, the women are able to discuss issues such as HIV/AIDS with their husbands and children at home and the men are coming forward to help with the business. In addition, these women have become role models not only for other women in the community but for men as well. We hope that this cultural change will be sustained and permanent.
- A few women are now on their 4th or fifth loan cycle. These women have made significant improvements and expansions in their businesses. For example, 7 women extended their houses from profits arising out of their business, 4 women purchased plots and have started building, 3 women are running restaurants, 16 families have expanded their businesses (drug stores, different types of groceries, clothing), and 4 women were able to build permanent shops instead of the make-shift structure they had to date.
- Women have realized the importance of savings and have started saving accounts in banks of their choice.
To sum, as a result of these loans that provide regular earnings to the family, nutrition and diet of the women and their families has improved, due to better health most of the children are back in school, the loan recipients have become role models in their community for both men and other women.
Challenges Faced by the Micro Finance Program
1. Some of the women are not able to make profits from their businesses due to higher prices of food, and for the products they purchase for sale. This has led to delays in their making loan repayments.
2. The women need refresher training on running a business on a continuing basis.
3. In additions for funds for loan capital we are constantly in need of funds for business training, field visits by the loan officer, salary and expenses for the loan officer, and weekly meetings that are an essential element to ensure the success of the micro loans program.
In summary, micro loans program has increased the survival rates of the children in the Matero compound in Lusaka, Zambia through better nutrition, helped children stay in school, and significantly improved the quality of life of their families. This program together with children’s care program is comprehensive as it takes care of physical (food, medicines, schooling), social (environment, culture, religious issues), and psychological (counselling, peer groups) needs of the women and children. In addition, education on adherence and monitoring has reduced the number of children who might have developed resistance to drugs at an early age, leading to an increase in their life span.
The Power of Love program has matured and our focus through 2010 continues to be provision of continuous quality care to the children and micro loans to their caregivers so that they can take care of the whole family. In the next few years we hope to extend the program to the entire community of Matero in Lusaka, Zambia.