Microloan Scheme now up and Running
During their recent visit to Genieri, Hilary and Jez Truelove, working with the Genieri Link Committee, were able to select the best twelve business ideas from a shortlist of 20 to receive an interest-free six month loan. This involved interviewing each of the twenty applicants, listening to their ideas for new businesses and discussing which were the best with members of the Genieri Committee.
The newly-fledged business women of Genieri
The chosen businesses include
● Opening a small cafe on the site of the market stall
● Buying a machine to grind groundnuts
● Grinding groundnuts to make groundnut paste,
● Making and selling bedsheets.
Among a number of other selected ideas were buying goods wholesale in the nearby town and selling in smaller quantities in the village, such as fertilizer, cooking oil, fish, powder and liquid Omo.
Micro-loan schemes are increasingly used in developing countries as a more sustainable alternative to simply giving aid. They work by making small loans to individuals who want to start or expand a small business so that they have a way to earn their way out of poverty. The amounts loaned are relatively small and it is often women in rural communities who can use a loan to supplement the family income. In the case of Genieri, the maximum loan was £40, though some successful bids only asked for £30 or £20. This was provided as an interest free loan which has to be fully re-paid within six months. If all re-payments are paid on time each person receives interest at the current bank rate which, in The Gambia, is 6%! If one of the new traders makes late payments they lose their interest.
The Yate-Genieri Link, as well as keeping community links, education and health as high priorities, has also aimed to help the village develop sustainable sources of income, such as the vegetable gardens and the market stall by the main road. The micro-loan scheme is the natural next step in the process of helping Genieri flourish and, eventually, become independent of financial support from Yate.
So, with significant finance on offer, there was a lot of interest in the village and the selection process took over four hours! But the enthusiasm and delight with which the successful bids were announced easily made the considerable preparation worthwhile.
We are now looking forward to news of progress with the new businesses.
● Foday Dampha, Headteacher at the Day Care Centre, is currently undertaking a six month management course for Headteachers in the capital Banjul.
● The rice harvest was good this year and has now finished.
● The women of the village are now able to begin planting in the vegetable garden.
Garden Manager Suleiman Sanneh
● The main highway, which runs close to Genieri and has been in a very poor state of repair for years, is now being tarmacked, all the way from Banjul. The tarmac has reached 10 miles from Genieri and will transform transport in this area very rapidly when it goes all the way the nearby town, Soma.
● Genieri recently hosted a major festival, organised by the Gambian Tourist Board, to celebrate the opening of the War Well Museum in the village, close to the site of an old war well where numerous artefacts were discovered.
Visting The Gambia? Please get in touch if you or your family or friends are intending to visit The Gambia. We can put you in contact with very reliable guides and taxi drivers from Genieri who work in Banjul, for example Sutay Sanneh who has a website created for him by previous grateful visitors (www.microlite.gb.com) and Seiko Sanneh who has driven taxis for Link visitors for over 20 years.