Microloans; Graduate Loans Case Studies
The pilot programme of loans for our vocational school graduates took place in Buipe Vocational School for Girls. Buipe is a relatively new community. The money for this pilot project came from a generous donation from Dartford Girls Grammar School and it seemed right to use it for something special for young women. 12 loans were given to girls with business plans leaving Buipe Vocational School in November 2009, The loans are to help establish new businesses and give the young women a real chance of a future. Before we responded to their appeals for help, the future for girls, particularly those with little or no schooling, was generally bleak.
During our visit to Ghana November 2010. , we searched out some of our ‘Graduate loan’ women to see how they were working., As the students disperse to their villages it is hard, with a short visit, to meet them.
We visited Mary who had built a hairdressing salon with woven rush walls, behind the petrol station in Buipe. It had big stone jars of water, enamel bowls, bottles of shampoo, posters, hair extensions and a bench with plastic chairs and a huge mirror. Mary was smartly dressed in a white polo shirt and modern cut-off black trousers. She was busy with a customer and says she has two or three most days so is quite busy. She repaid her loan before Christmas 2010. She is hoping to take on an apprentice in 2012.
Flavia, a smart young lady, also in Buipe, had set up a Batik printing workshop behind her mother’s grocery Kiosk. She was doing well and sent much of her cloth to the market where it sold. Lynne bought the last two pieces of cloth. She repaid her loan and she is helping her family to send her brothers and sisters to school.
We heard of Amina Wusa comes from Bowina, a village where ‘Wulugu’ built a primary school, but too late for her to take advantage. While we were building this school, her grandparents came to see Karimu for help. She was a bright girl, her mother had died and she was now too old for formal education. She travelled the long distance to Buipe, our nearest vocational school where she stayed safely in our hostel.
Here she improved her literacy and numeracy together with understanding of health and nutrition, and took a weaving and tie and dye course. Without our help it is likely that she would be married with three children by now, and the hope of her own children attending school would be remote.
Amina left Buipe in 2009, age 20. her loan was only £150. She set up a weaving enterprise in Bowina. Amina found a second hand loom and her cloths sold well. With her income she rapidly repaid the loan, to be passed on to another new graduate. We are told that ‘She helps her family very well. She helped her uncle to buy a 2 acre farm. He grew maize and, in the first year, produced 16 bags of maize which he had never had before. 8 bags fed his family for the year and the other 8 he could sell to buy more seed and to care for the needs of his family. All 6 of his children are now at school regularly, even the girls.’
With her graduate loan, she and her extended family have moved out of the poverty trap and their future is greatly improved.
Hopefully the other young businesswomen are doing well in their home towns and the staff will visit them again soon. These businesses are sustainable so the girls of Dartford should be proud.