What we do
We provide microcredit loans to people living in poverty to enable them to begin small businesses that will generate income and improve their standard of living. These people are unable to get loans from traditional banks as they have no collateral. By the end of 2009 our microcredit program in Sri Lanka has helped over 300 families escape the poverty trap. A further 600 families have been approved for loans but are on a waiting list for funds. We need your help to assist more families in need. Your donation is one of the few charitable donations that keeps working over and over by being re-lent out to other needy recipients as it is paid back. It is much more than just a hand-out, it is a way out of poverty forever. A recipient of microcredit can hold their head up high as they earn their living and no longer need to rely upon charity.
Our project began in 2007, in Kalmuni, on the east coast of Sri Lanka. This area, devastated by the tsunami and civil war, was where thousands of families lost their homes and livelihoods and became caught in poverty. During the tsunami, fishermen lost their nets, farmers lost their livestock and craftsmen lost their equipment. Without the tools of their trade, they had no way to get back to work. The tsunami also left many widows who had never worked before who now urgently needed to make a living to support themselves and their children.
Microcredit provides small loans to help people start new businesses, generate income and start to climb out of poverty. They pay back the loan in small weekly increments. For someone with no business experience it may be as simple as raising a few chickens. Others have used the loans to restock and repair existing stores and businesses. When they have repaid their first loan they can apply for a second larger loan, eventually “graduating” from the microcredit program and being able to obtain a loan from a regular bank.
Loan recipients are supported,trained and monitored at every step to ensure the success of their new venture. Special focus is given to women to encourage them to take part in microcredit. Women in Kalmunai are often the most in need. Many have no business experience and lack confidence. They need a lot of support to get started. However, once they begin, their businesses thrive as they are very motivated to make a better life for their children. The repayment rate is 95%, which is one of the highest in Sri Lanka. Borrowers are encouraged to open savings accounts and take part in a community insurance program. They remain in the program and are supported until their businesses are viable.
High School Graduates
The program provides vocational and business training for groups of high school graduates who are unemployed. Once they have been trained they may apply for a group microcredit loan to set up a business together with their new skills. Successful group businesses include: carpentry, dress making, flower pot production, and welding.