Yemen: Microfinance Loans Enable Poor Women to Start up Their Own Businesses

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Jul 2009
Yemen, July, 23 2009 - Small and micro enterprises have demonstrated, in both the developing and developed world, their ability to play an important role in the development process, especially in economic development, said Abdulkarim Al-Eryani, Chairman of the National Microfinance Foundation.

The foundation, established in 2003 as a non government organization, was a collective effort of a number of individuals and institutions to help micro-entrepreneurs start and expand their projects, by providing them with appropriate financial services.

The main target group is women with low income, in both rural and urban areas. The foundation provides them with loans which they are expected to pay back in installments.

However, through a unique deposit scheme, the money the beneficiaries pay back ends up in their very own savings account. The loan is thus equivalent to a grant, but with the added advantage that beneficiaries learn to manage their money during the scheme.

By paying an extra one percent of their loan each year, beneficiaries can ensure that the loan they are paying back is put into a savings account for their families in case they die.

“Since its establishment the foundation has distributed more than 50,000 loans amounting to one and half billion Yemeni Riyals,” said Al-Eryani.

Over the last year, the National Microfinance Foundation has conducted a review of its policies in response to beneficiaries' demand for simplicity. Today the foundation uses an automated management information system connecting its headquarters to all of its nine branches.

Executive director Ahmed Al-Zamami explained that in 2008, the foundation witnessed significant growth by 36 percent, while the outstanding loan portfolio grew by 46 percent.

“Women continue to be our main clients as they form 99 percent of our active clients,” he said. The foundation aims for the client base to reach 21,000 beneficiaries by the end of 2009.

There have been a number of microfinance initiatives in Yemen, but many of these have failed because the beneficiaries were not able to pay back the loans.

This is why the National Microfinance Foundation provides compulsory training and capacity building opportunities for the beneficiaries before their applications for loans are accepted.

The training includes feasibility studies for small and medium scale businesses, book keeping, marketing, financial analysis, and project management, and has so far been given by national experts or international trainers from the International Labor Organization, GTZ and USAID among others.

Source : Yemen Times
 

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