Takum Ussa and Yangtu Rural Women Development Association
Revolving Loan Project
This project began is located in Taraba State in Nigeria (North East of Nigeria) covering two local councils, Takum and Ussa. Taraba State is one of the 36 states of Nigeria. It is a relatively poor state in the North East of Nigeria where the main economic activity is subsistence farming. This has been disrupted for many years now because of local ethnic conflicts but made worse terrorist (Boko Haram) activities of in the North East of Nigeria, who insist on extreme Islam and hatred of Christians and Western education. In recent years there have been conflicts between farmers and Fulani cattle herdsmen who destroy farms with their animals. The majority of farmers in rural areas are women with small farms that grow food for family consumption. This is also one of the factors that push women into poverty because whatever they produce is used up by the family, this is made worst by their rural dwelling with limited access to resources and lack of capital to engage in any other meaningful economic activities.
This unfortunate state of rural women does not let them participate in economic activities because they lack access to credit or loan. This cycle of poverty can be broken or reduced if rural women have some assistant to credit facilities, training and support they can improve their lives. This is the aim of the project of Takum and Ussa local government area tries to do.
It is a project whereby a woman with a business idea but has no financial resources do or start the business can come and borrow a small amount of money (£25-100) to start her business. She is given time to pay back the loan with a very small interest. As she pays back the loan, another woman in that community borrows they money and this is replicated over and over. The scheme started with just 50 women but it grew as the news spread around to other villages. So far 510 women from 30 community groups have benefited directly from the project. It has been so successful that there are about 800 women are on the waiting list. Those who took the loan use it to buy and sell vegetables, fish, cooked food to sell, snacks, fridge to sale cold drinks, generator to charge mobile phones in the village or buy chairs to rent for social events, for those who still farm buy fertilizer for their farms and hire more farm labourers to help in sowing and weeding and expanding their farms. Some use the loan to pay for a stall in the market to sell things, pay for vocational training such as tailoring, hairdressing, catering at weddings and any social events, purchase of land for expansion etc. The repayment rate is 98%. We, the African Women Group have partnered and supported the project; we support them as their overseas contact, adviser, fund raiser and providing training materials.
The benefits of the project
The project has helped women improve their financial status and gain some financial independence. It shows how a small amount of loan can transform a woman’s life from poverty to self-reliance give her confidence and open opportunity for her to become useful members of her community. Other benefits include better management of their money, increase self-confidence, increase physical and emotional wellbeing, greater community participation, increase organizational skills, greater awareness in a healthy lifestyle and healthy cooking. The women report of greater stability in the home and increase the involvement of the woman in decision making in the home and respect from their spouse and children as they are seen to be contributing to the income of the family. It is also noticed that women who engage in economic activities are more likely to take up family planning services as they do not want to have too many children, because some see many children contribute to poverty e.g. children might stop them from going to the market because the child is sick or she herself is pregnant and can’t go about her business.
This program has been successful and there is a high demand for it. It is our sincere belief that with more resources this project will make a greater impact on women’s lives and that of their families, for an increase in household income reduces poverty.
The knowledge gained from the workshop and training help them to manage their finances, share information and network with other women. Being a member of a group provides support for their future endeavours. That the confidence gained and would have given them a greater voice in their own families, participate more in their community’s affairs.
The long-time goal is that women would have sufficient confidence, skills and self-confidence to participate in public affairs and run for offices even if just from their local councils or church committee, school board or mother union etc.