Start-up seed capital for family businesses
When refugees flee their homes, they are able to carry very little with them. Yet sometimes even that is restricted because they also carry very little children. So whenever they arrive wherever, they have virtually nothing with them. What also gets left behind are their jobs – their means to provide for themselves and their families. What they end up seeing are sprawling refugee camps & tent cities populated with people that have nowhere (else) to go, nothing to do, and no means to support themselves or even re-launch their life in a new land.
And for those who cannot or choose not to live in a refugee camp, their plight is even more dire. They live in the cities, pay rent, and buy food since they do not benefit from international aid programs that sometimes deliver food, shelter, medication, and an education.
Jobs and work are needed not only for the income it produces, but also for the dignity it provides. No one wants to ask, beg, or continually rely upon help from others. In 2017 we initiated a Micro-Loan Program and 4 families served as our test-pilots. Our Rwandan managing team qualified the loan recipients and their business plans. We then loaned these families $300 seed capital to start-up their businesses. The 4 business included:
- making & sewing clothing
- buying & re-selling clothing
- buying & selling charcoal (wholesale to retail)
- finding/recycling/selling scrap metal
These entrepreneurs not only earned a means to provide for their families, but also paid back their loans. And we were then able to leverage their successful businesses and make them incrementally larger loans. $300 loans can grow to $500, $1000, up to our $1,500 cap. Successful participants are able to provide not only for the basic needs of their families, but also the educational needs of their children…and even ‘graduate’ from receiving our educational support.
In 2018, we expanded our micro-loan program to 9 other families. We intend to manage and grow this program as resources allow.
In 2021, 12 families are currently in our program. While most recipients learned & earned such that they were on schedule to successfully repay their loans, the pandemic has stifled several participant businesses. This stretches out the repayment period.