Vesti de la prietenii din Benin

Posted by in despre viata

Mi-am facut un obicei din a sustine, odata la cateva luni, cauzele prezentate pe Kiva – un sistem prin care poti imprumuta cu bani diverse grupuri de „antreprenori” din tarile sub-dezvoltate; bani care, la cateva luni dupa ce ai imprumutat, sunt returnati.

Ultima data -in urma cu o luna- am imprumutat unui grup de femei din Benin. Am primit un mesaj atat de frumos si trist in acelasi timp, de la cel care se ocupa de grupul din Benin, incat il voi reda mai jos:

Dear Mihai Dumitru,

Thank you for supporting an entrepreneur in Benin.

Thank you for supporting a Kiva entrepreneur in Benin. As the Kiva Fellow placed with ALIDé, Kiva’s field partner in Benin, I can tell you first hand what your loan has meant.

For starters, your US $25 is the equivalent of about 12,500 CFA francs, the currency used in Benin and thirteen other countries in Africa. This is quite a bit of money and more than most Beninese people are used to seeing at one time. To give you some perspective, here are some things you can buy for just 100 CFA francs (roughly 20 cents):

  • An egg and avocado baguette sandwich
  • A second hand t-shirt (involves a bit of bargaining)
  • One or two pre-sliced pineapples (depends on their size)
  • A ten minute ride on a zemidjan (a motorcycle taxi)
  • 20 fried plantains

As you can expect, Kiva’s entrepreneurs in Benin take their loans very seriously. Loans average around US $300 (a small fortune – 30,000 fried plantains!) and are usually invested towards developing an existing business. This is often a business the borrower inherited from her mother, be it selling food (like Madeleine Avohou) or produits divers, a random assortment of products like toothpaste and powdered milk (like  Antoinette Hounsou). Since there’s a large amount of women doing the same trades, their rate of return isn’t high, but the US $300 can help them take their business to the next level, or at least keep their kids in school, which for a country with a 65% illiteracy rate is great news.

Success doesn’t have to end there. Occasionally, you meet people like  Michèle Tokelo. Michèle’s getting ready to take out her seventh loan with ALIDé, her second with Kiva. Her loans have allowed her evolve from selling produits divers to having a stall with a variety of dry goods, a hair salon, and a telecom booth (her newest and most lucrative venture). As if that (and being the mother of four kids, all educated) wasn’t enough, she spends her „extra time” organizing training sessions on business and health for the women in her community, and personally coaching them on how to get their first loans and start their own businesses. It’s estimated that Michèle, who only has a primary school education, has helped almost 300 women start their own successful businesses! One can only hope that stories like Michèles become more frequent.

Thanks again for you loan. I hope that when it’s repaid, you lend again to someone in Benin. And if you’re interested in learning more about Benin, please consider joining the Kiva lending team, Friends of Benin.

Marie Leznicki
Kiva Fellow, Benin

Frumos si trist, asa-i? Un motiv suficient de bun pentru a ajuta si voi pe pe Kiva.