Saturday, January 23, 2010

Economic Transformation through Microfinance - Beatrice Story

Beatrice U. is one of the clients of Urwego Opportunity Bank (UOB).
She is married to Celestin H. and they have four (4) children.

Beatrice received her first loan in 2002. Her initial loan size was 20,000 Rwandan Francs (RWF), about US$35. She had a small business of selling drinks in the house where her family was living. Although she owned this small business before taking this loan, she could not increase her inventory just because no traditional bank was willing to give her a loan without collateral.

It is during this time that she learned about UOB and joined one of its Trust Groups (Community Banks). She was not required to provide any collateral under the social guarantee program of UOB’s trust group methodology.

When she received her first loan, she expanded her inventory and made profit. She completed her first loan cycle without any arrears and as a result she was able to borrow a larger loan in the next cycle.

Beatrice says that taking UOB’s loan helped develop discipline in managing business as well as the debt.

Beatrice appreciated the trust group methodology because it provided emotional and social support as well as assistance in business management when she was not established well.

Because of Beatrice’s good performance, she graduated to join a solidarity group where a smaller number of members can borrower a larger loan.

As the business grew, she moved her business from her house to a rented building and began a wholesale business. She sells various supplies to other businesses around the area.

Once again Beatrice was so successful with her business that she graduated from a solidarity group to be able to obtain an individual loan. She now borrows RWF 4 million (US $ 6,900). She finds no difficulty meeting her repayment requirements.

As the business continued to grow, her husband joined her in managing the business. They have built their own home where they are living now. They were also able to renovate the old one which served as their first shop and they now rent it out.

They were able to send all four children to school and they meet all expenses related with school including tuition, uniforms, books and other school supplies. They employ two workers.

Microfinance indeed works well to help struggling families transform themselves to graduate from their chronic poverty. Beatrice is only one of many families who benefited from microfinance.

Beatrice is extremely excited to be one of UOB’s clients. - Jeffrey

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