Today we contributed $25 to a group of two women and two men (led by one of the women) in Ibarra, Ecuador. Viviana, the group leader, works with her husband and the other group members in the agricultural field, such as growing beans, corn, and other crops. She requested a $1,600 loan to help them buy seeds, compost, fungicides, and various supplies to sustain their farms. She has a nine-year-old son, and she hopes he will be able to attend school regularly throughout his life.
One aspect of this group that drew me in was that they were asking for compost instead of fertilizer. Compost is a compilation of nutritious plant feed that will not harm the soil or water source in this area. Although the fungicides are chemicals, the crops will likely fail without them. This is a needed chemical, unlike the need for fertilizer which causes unnecessary damage.
This is the second time we have disbursed a loan to a group, instead of an individual. Remember that group loans work a little differently than individual loans. They ask for a large sum of money that is divided between them according to their business needs. The chair person of the group requests the loan, but each person is responsible for paying back their portion. Every now and then, the group gets together and discusses how their business situation is going. If one person is struggling to pay their loan back, the other members step up and cover it for them so they will be able to keep a high repayment rate and request more loans in the future.
Ibarra, Ecuador is located in the northern part of the country, near the border of Ecuador and Colombia in South America. The average annual income per capita is $4,776 USD. The microfinance institution administering the loan is charging 24.08% interest. Remember the interest is paid to the institution, not to the loaner. We only receive our principal amounts in small payments over a period of time (usually around $2 for 12-13 months).
So far, the loan is 32% funded. The group still needs $1,075 in order to reach their requested amount of $1,600. By the end of the day, the loan will likely be raised to the full amount.
We still have enough money in our account to make one more microloan of $25 to a group of women in a developing country. Our borrowers from Pakistan and Senegal are in the process of repaying their loans, and we will be able to redistribute the money to a new set of entrepreneurs in a few months.
By the way, WolfBridge Financial was recently featured in Boom! Magazine, a local retirement publication, for our Kiva loans. If you missed it, you can find an issue at one of these distribution centers. Click Here for Distribution List. We are located in the Chatter section on the inside front cover. Hurry to pick it up! The December issue will probably come out later this week.