By Leanna Ehrlich
In rural communities in Ghana, access to reliable and affordable financial services is often unavailable. Many families live on the edge of economic viability due to a lack of financial education, savings services, and reasonable interest rates. These barriers make it difficult to save for emergencies or to invest education, home repairs, or business ventures.
Microfinance Brigades aim to increase a community’s savings culture. Global Brigades supports households to increase their average annual income and promotes community development through business expansion and social projects. The Microfinance program establishes community development funds (CDFs) with access to savings and loans and trains bank members to spearhead their communities’ social projects.
Global Brigades’s Holistic Model strives to sustainably transition communities away from brigade programs, and the community bank is an essential component. Once community members have the capital and training to direct their own development work, GB will no longer need to be involved. Communities will manage their own medical and financial health, but only after establishing economic sustainability under Microfinance Brigades.
During the temporary absence of student brigaders, Global Brigades plans to maintain its Microfinance Program in Ghana by partnering with Ekumfiman Rural Bank, located in Ekumfi Essuehyia. Many individual community development funds have already established accounts at this centrally located bank. Global Brigades has created a loan portfolio at the Ekumfiman Rural Bank that will include benefits such as lower interest rates for communities that already have CDFs. This partnership will create a long-term investment that strengthens the sustainability of our Microfinance loan services until student volunteers can return to Ghana.
All Microfinance funds from Global Day for Ghana will be used for direct programming to create new social enterprises and conduct additional training for Community Development Fund leaders. By supporting Global Day for Ghana’s Microfinance fundraising, we will be able to sustainably exit our original communities and expand to new ones for future brigades.