After a welcome day’s break at Lake Bunyonyi over the weekend Monday found the team back out on the road for another field trip, this time to see how our micro-finance programme, Obumwe (which means unity) is operating. As always, this was a long but rewarding day. Our first port of call was at the home of a group which we reached via some heart stopping dirt tracks that would be all but impassable after rain. The name of the group translates as the ‘group at the top of the hill that is growing’, and this pretty much summed them up. The group of 47 people received a loan of one million shillings (around £250) in July last year. They used half of the loan to purchase six sheep and the balance was added to their existing savings pot and lent out to members of the group. Nine months later and three months after repaying their loan they are able to show a cash surplus and have bred an additional nine sheep which together brings their net surplus to a little under one and a half million shillings (£375). There are many city investors who would give their eye teeth for such a rate of return. Their current goal is to provide every household with a sheep to ensure the sustainability of the community.
We visited an addition four groups at two venues, two who are half way through their loan periods and two who have applied for loans but not yet received them. As is to be expected not everything runs smoothly and in the course of the day we came across various issues that we will need to address over the next week or so, but that is why we are here – to celebrate the positive results and to work with the team to improve those areas that are not running as smoothly as they could do.
One of the founding principles of Obumwe was that we should be channeling our funds through women’s groups or groups led by women. The wisdom of this was bourne out again for us today as we found the most successful groups are those run by women and those that give us most cause for concern are run by men.
At a personal level it is really good to see our team working so well together and finding their feet in this strange environment where everyone is well outside of their comfort zones. Each of the team members has learnt a great deal about Africa and themselves and some of these lessons have been very difficult at times, but everyone has come through with flying colours – we are proud of each and every one of them. From today different team members have been going in different directions to work on projects that have most captured their imaginations, from participating in a workshop on how to improve and grow Obumwe, through teaching at Amazing Love School, to decorating the Amasiko Drop-in Centre.
Lastly, we were delighted to hear yesterday evening that Hassan, who we featured in a blog post last Friday, now has a full time sponsor!