Assembling a Project Monitoring System for the Promic Micro-Credit Program

PerreaultW1 with caption.JPGWhen one considers the challenges associated with managing a micro-credit program in a widely dispersed rural community, it is apparent that resources are often strained. Boniface Kawiiso, a long-time employee of the Jinja Diocesan Development Coordinating Organization (JIDDECO), was serving the role of the deputy director of the Promic Program, the administrative assistant, the loan officer, credit officer, the trainer, and the primary consultant for an outside Savings and Credit Cooperative. The JIDDECO Promic Program serves groups of women in Uganda with microcredit loans. When Boniface was the sole employee for Promic, it was unrealistic to facilitate a micro-credit lending program across 19 diverse communities. As a result, many savings groups lacked proper contact information, the assistance that they needed to successfully manage and repay their loans, and the guidance to properly allocate group loans. FSD Intern Will Perreault worked with JIDDECO during his internship in Jinja, Uganda. His first experience in Uganda was to situate himself in new surroundings: “As the rooster crows (well, cocks… the word rooster makes everyone laugh, given that the combination of vowels and consonants is not all that typical within Lusoga), I open my eyes to a new day in Uganda. I look out my window through a field towards Lake Victoria, ultimately spilling into the Source of the Nile. Other than a nearby factory, I can also view Tanzania and Rwanda. Not bad.” PerreaultW2 with caption.JPGHis second experience was working in a new community with an NGO, where he recalls learning about microcredit on the ground: “Graciously, I was welcomed into the 19 Promic women’s groups’ hollowed out brick churches, open air community centers, and dirt-floored homes. I had asked how Promic could better serve their needs. Unfortunately, many of the groups seemed to be voicing the same frustrations with Promic as well as their own businesses. Continually, clients failed to repay their loans, were given additional loans (by predatory lenders and well-intentioned groups alike) and subsequently grow more and more in debt. To avoid giving those who are unable to repay loans future loans is not simply a matter of tough love. Like so many of poverty’s symptoms, the majority of the reasons why people are unable to repay their loans are so preventable (if not curable). It was very discouraging to hear the stories of increasing debt, failed businesses, and the minimal contact they had had with my host organization and their peers – whether in the form of monitoring, assistance or encouragement.” After gaining familiarity with both his surroundings and his host organization, Will’s work with JIDDECO led him to help develop a database to track the microcredit loans of the Promic Micro-Credit Program. Together, Will and JIDDECO created and implemented a Project Monitoring System and Evaluation Database. With the database, JIDDECO is able to better equip their clients to repay their loans, ensure that program resources are utilized efficiently, and measure the performance of their loan allocation program to truly target marginalized populations in immense need. Through Will’s creation of client loan portfolios, a centralized collection database and a regular monitoring and assistance program, JIDDECO reaped a higher rate of return on their loans. PerreaultW3 with caption.JPGWith the generous financial support provided by over 50 friends and supporters, Will was able to train staff members in utilizing the database system, gather data on the allocation of over 500 previous loans in 19 different communities, and meet with community members to hear about their challenges and successes. Will was able to measurably improve incomes for women in rural communities through these partnerships, as well as help equip them to build their micro-businesses and self-confidence. In the words of Boniface, “[By] facilitating the establishment of a database, JIDDECO now knows all its clients’ characteristics by name, type of enterprise, the loans applied for and amount, repayment schedules, the interest charged and their saving culture. Through the loan portfolio ledger, JIDDECO has strengthened its group lending scheme using group consent forms, individual loan tracking/monitoring, and is simplified for better loan management and client’s business growth.” Thanks to Will, the microcredit effort in Uganda can continue to grow.