Micro-Finance at Action Sociale
Trip Start Feb 02, 2007
18Trip End Mar 30, 2007
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What was particularly interesting about our visit was that we were able to see the entire process. For those unfamiliar with manioc it is a long, skinny root vegetable, although the "leaves/stalk" looks more like a small tree. (imagine the leafy part of a carrot standing at least 6 feet in the air!) You can tell when the manioc is ready because the leaves on the stalk will be large
The group sells these items at nearby markets. Each village and city has a 'big' market day although there is usually something to be found on any given day. I live near Marché Ouando (the large market of Porto Novo) and its always open- even late at night people will be there with their tiny oil lamps.
The process for funding is typically as follows:
The family will approach AS or AS might already be involved with their family through the various other needs they serve.
1) training: how to run a group
2) management of resources
3) how to open an account
4) identify the needs of the group
Once funding has been approved, Thomas, the staff who runs the microfinance program will have several meetings with the group to determine if they are reliable, if they have a good plan in place. They will exchange ideas, discuss their difficulties and get help from Thomas. Also he tries to get other groups to help one another
Another area currently receiving funding is 'haute couture' or clothing. Unlike home there are few ready to wear clothes available, but instead clothes are custom-made. Groups will get funding for sewing machines (which by the way are the treddle kind) and can hire people to help them. Both women and men participate in haute couture and make some very elaborate items.
New this year Action Sociale hopes to become involved in livestock. Action Sociale will have a specialist in the field come and do a training to help them determine their needs and how to run this sort of group. It will include: pigs, rabbits, chickens, eggs and agouti (need to look that one up).
Hope to add pictures soon.