One of the projects that I worked on for the Fantsuam Foundation was the development of a proposal for funding from the Friends of Nigeria, a group of former Peace Corps volunteers who worked in Nigeria in the 1960's and 1970's. Upon review of the proposal, the FON generously agreed to provide a grant to Fantsuam's Microfinance Department. For those of you unfamiliar with microfinance, it consists of very small loans (often $100 or less) provided to each member of a group of women needing support to start up their own businesses or expand their existing enterprises. These loans are repaid to the lender according to an agreed upon schedule, and the group members are responsible for ensuring that all members make this repayment. Upon successful repayment, the group may then qualify for a larger loan if desired. Though the amounts may not sound substantial to those of us accustomed to borrowing large sums for the purchase of homes or cars, these microfinance loans make a world of difference for people who need only very modest amounts to achieve much for themselves. For more on microfinance, check out the granddaddy of them all, the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh: http://www.grameenfoundation.org/?gclid=CMP-wMnm9pUCFRghnAodYwvW4Q.
After reviewing the potential groups who could receive the FON loan, it was decided that a group of women in the Zankan Marwa chiefdom, close to Kafanchan, would be the recipients. These women had previously received and repaid a loan to support themselves in the production and sale of maize and yam to their fellow villagers. On September 9th, I travelled with a group from Fantsuam as they made the disbursement of the loan to the women. After a series of discussions with the women regarding the loans, the leader of the group was presented with the loan, and she presided over the presentation of a share of the loan to each of the other women in the group.