Egyankwa Community Development Fund: March Updates
By Clare McInerney, Ghana Microfinance Program Advisor
On March 11th, GB Ghana celebrated its 1-year anniversary of brigades in Ghana with the community of Ekumfi Egyankwa and students from Dublin City University in the opening ceremony of their Microfinance brigade. The ceremony of drumming and dancing took place in the shade of the Rainwater Harvesting structure/Community Center constructed by Water Brigades in January and members of GB Ghana staff and Egyankwa leadership said a few words to mark the occasion and introduce the community to the new volunteers. DCU was the fourth Microfinance brigade in Egyankwa and worked with the Development Fund leaders to reinforce the savings and loans operations of the Fund, providing valuable community outreach and education on basic financial literacy and business development, and also launched Egyankwa’s first community-owned micro-enterprise.
Having identified target issues of irregular savings and high rates of loan refinancing, the brigade focused their project on outreach related to the importance of savings culture and training and workshops related to improving the loan application process. To encourage a culture of regular and consistent savings in the community, the group conducted 4 presentations at the Egyankwa school about the Child’s Savings program at the Fund, did door-to-door outreach on savings culture for adults, and completed two marketing pieces in the community to advertise the Fund with the slogan “Save Together, Learn Together, Grow Together.” For the school education program, 3 students who were identified as the most regular savers were invited to speak to their peers about the importance of savings.
To address issues with timely repayment, the group held a series of workshops with Fund leaders on the importance of determining an appropriate loan repayment period tailored to each applicant’s financial situation and source of income. A loan application workshop was then held at the end of the week in which volunteers alongside Fund leadership guided loan applicants through the application process. From this process two strong applications were selected by the group to be financed by a portion of their Community Investment Fund (CIF) pending the recuperation of at least half of current outstanding loans.
The most notable project of the week was the organization, investment, and launch of a canopy and chair rental business as Egyankwa’s first community-owned micro-enterprise to directly capitalize the Development Fund. The community collectively selected a non-executive client of the Fund to manage and operate the business on a 100% volunteer basis at the insistence of community leaders. The DCU volunteers developed a business plan with an evolving profit breakdown designed to allow the business to grow while also capitalizing the Fund. At the closing ceremony for the brigade, residents of Egyankwa sat under the newly-purchased canopies and the rental business was officially launched.
In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, which fell on the Saturday of the closing ceremony, the volunteers prepared an Irish dance that they performed for the community and presented the President of the Development Fund with an Irish flag in gratitude for an amazing week.