Thursday, December 1, 2011

Ministry Updates - November 2011

Dear friends, family and fellow Kingdom workers,

The month of November was another slow month at UOB due again to the seasonality, but the month was yet full of excitements. Here were the highlights

1. UOB will distribute 7,000 English bibles to the leaders of trust groups so that their children may have English bibles and the Word of God may be passed unto the next generations. World Bible Translation Center is sponsoring these bibles. UOB received the first supply of 1,000 bibles and 480 bibles have been distributed in Gicumbi. It is our prayer that God's Living Word may impact young people of Rwanda. This was done as part of my plan to visit field staff at least once a year.

2. Mona Park from Philadelphia, PA, Kristin and I had an opportunity to visit one of Savings Circles HOPE International is supporting in cooperation with Rwanda's Anglican Churches. These Savings Circle are informal groups where they save regularly and lend to other members through which they grow their wealth gradually. UOB is exploring the possibility of providing linkage loans and services to help them graduate up to the formal financial services sector.

3. Korean missionaries in Rwanda continued the monthly prayer fellowship and it was a blessing to us all.

4. UOB signed a loan agreement to use Rwf575 million (approximately $1 million) from Rwanda Development Bank (BRD). With this funding, UOB has now secured a total of $5 million for 2012. Along with equity capital and deposits, this should be sufficient to cover all funding needs in 2012. Praise the Lord!

5. Kristin and Jeffrey received and had fellowship with several visitors, including Mona Park, wife of the senior pastor for Jubilee Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, Byungsan Chung, a missionary with YWAM UK and Young Chun Byun, a missionary based in the Philippines. Their visits are always encouraging and uplifting.
6. UOB received the final report that documented UOB's Social Performance using CERISE format. It was the first time that we received such a report on social performance. It has provided a good guidance on what we should improve.

7. In November, UOB received several audits, including EU audit, Gates/Master Card Mid-term audit and Earnst & Young external audit for the third quarter. Audits are good in a sense they establish accountability, but too many at the same time create a significant burden. Nonetheless, our team has handled them pretty effectively.

7. As of November 30th, UOB's loan portfolio remained pretty flat Rwf6.9 billion, slightly lower than October 31st. This slight decline reflects the low seasonality in October and November.

8. UOB's outreach, however, continued to expand with its borrowing clients totaling 39,765, a few hundreds clients more than October 31st. This is wonderful in light of the challenges that we face in the field, particularly competition from new banks.

9. We continued our preparation to offer the third-party remittance services, including Western Union, Money Gram and RIA This will enhance UOB's product offering, in addition to the US dollar, wire transfer services and FX services that have been launched recently.

10. Meanwhile, PAR (Portfolio At Risk) > 30 days increased to 1.2% from 0.72% a month earlier, an undesirable move but this level still represented a very healthy level. We shall closely monitor how it moves.

11. We provided a 2-day credit training for approximately 18 staff on micro business lending (MBL). This group of people included 10 people who were selected out of the last month training group of 20 plus Loan Underwriting Team and other related staff. We trust that these training will provide competence in serving our clients who desire to graduate to individual loans from group loans.

12. A group of four graduate students from Johns Hopkins University will be working with UOB on a project related to agent banking. We had the first telephone conference in October and they will work off site until January when they will be on site for three weeks to produce a white paper proposing an effective implementation plan on agent banking. We look forward to working with them. Also we are in contact with St. Mary University in California and George Washington University MBA students on different projects.

12. The Kininya sewing project that Kristin is handling continues to progress well. Out of 20 women who have been trained for the past six months, 10 are able to produce simple products in commercial quality. They keep practicing their skills through pilot testing work. From January 2012, they will be able to generate income out of sewing. Later next year, they plan to form a cooperative to be more formal and to be able to bid for bigger contracts. We are excited!

13. Jeffrey continued serving God's saints through preaching at UOB staff devotion and Agape Korean Church in Rwanda under establishment. He also led the weekly Shalom Bible Study, studying the Sermon on the Mount. It is a mutually blessing time.

14. We have the following Prayer Requests: Please...

* Pray for the UOB's continuing holistic transformational development through Christian micro finance in Rwanda.
* Pray for the scheduled pilot testing for mobile and agent banking in December
* Pray for a scaled-up progress in UOB's agricultural lending program.
* Pray for a mission team who will arrive in December with a focus on Business As Mission (BAM) products for Rwanda
* Pray for God's wisdom and guidance in designing effective educational finance products that will benefit many students in Rwanda
* Pray for our children (Amanda + James, and Joyce) who are still trying to figure out what God has in store for their lives on earth.
* Pray for God's peacefulness in the heart of Kristin's mom during her last days of life on earth

We appreciate your partnership with us through prayer and support.

Gratefully and joyfully in His service,

Jeffrey and Kristin Lee from Kigali, RWANDA,

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