On 2.20.19, Anna, Emmanuel and Harry from Patriots Ghana went to the Akkuful Krodua R/C basic school for an interactive talk session about the importance of saving money to primary school students. This forms part of the Patriots Ghana Microfinance project with the goal of empowering youth with financial literacy skills. 86 students participated in the talk. Before the talk started, there was a pre-test to gauge how much the students had previously known about what savings is, how important it is, how one can save, and so on. Immediately after the savings talk was completed, the same exact test was given as a post-test. Using the pre-test and the post-test, we can analyze the effectiveness of the talk.
After the pre-test was complete, Emmanuel led a savings presentation using a projector in the class. Windows and doors were shut so the projections can be seen more clearly and brightly. Some of the contents covered in the presentation were needs vs. wants, what savings is, why it important to save money, and how one can save money. Discipline was also stressed. An example given by Emmanuel was about ice-cream. You can choose to spend 1 cedi on ice cream every day, or instead save the money. If you had saved 1 cedi every day for a year, you’d have 365 cedi. Although 1 cedi in itself isn’t a lot, when you practice discipline for long duration, your savings will accumulate. Many students live far away from school. They could use their savings to purchase a bike, so they can get to school early, added Emmanuel. Throughout the talk, participation was encouraged. While students were quieter in the beginning, many more warmed up to us and became more active participants in the discussion as the talk progressed. After the presentation, a short video about a playful, short-sighted grasshopper and hard-working, disciplined ants were shown. When the winter came, the ants had enough food saved up while the grasshopped went hungry. Harry led a discussion on the video, and how it relates to savings. Anna helped with collecting and distributing the tests, and took photos.
A week before Emmanuel and Harry went to different schools at or near the community to introduce the organization, its mission, and say that its interested in giving talks about savings to students later on. The representatives of each school were eager to partner with us, and we hope to give the same talk to more schools and raise awareness about savings. We will be analyzing the data from the tests and using the report to restructure our talks and microfinance project. We appreciate the headteacher, Mr. Kenneth Aurthur and management of Akufful Krodua R/C school for the support.
Source: Keehoon Jung (Intern, Bowdoin College)
Emmanuel Yamoah (National Projects Manager) and Harry Jung (intern, Bowdoin University) from Patriots Ghana went visited SRF Microcredit for a brief meeting. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss with Justice Arthur (Head of Marketing and programs manager of GAFI) how the institution goes about giving out loans, who are their clients and under what terms of agreement. Although visiting a not-for-profit MFI would have given us more direct answers, visiting a for-profit institution offered an indirect and yet insightful new perspective.
Many interesting points were made by Justice. They include a fact that Ghanaian government regulates MFIs to operate in a single branch and focus on one area. As a for-profit MFI, Justice’s clients are salary workers, foreign students, and corporations—people or organizations whom are established and have credible financial backing. Apparently, it is a very profitable business; for a group of 6 full-time staff and a few interns, they serve more than 2,500 clients. With profit in mind, their interest rates are naturally higher than ours, which is a non-profit microfinance project. For example, Justice showed us as a typical balance sheet has interest rate at 8%, which applies to all outstanding loan balance monthly. We follow the same method, but ours is set at 4.5%. Something we don’t do—they charge upfront processing fee of 3.5% to cover for initial operational cost like drawing up paperwork, transportation, etc.
They are very successful at getting their owed money back in time. This is due to multiple factors. For example, for salary workers, their income bank account is linked to their lender, so lender automatically takes out monthly dues from the income bank account. This can’t be done with our project since our clients are technology adverse and don’t have bank account. All their transaction is done by cash. Furthermore, collateral is used. For example, a student must turn in a phone worth 2500 cedi and keep it with the bank for the duration of the loan to access to a loan of half of the phone’s value of 1250 cedi. PG does not use collateral during the loan screening process since no collateral in our client’s procession can match the money loaned out. Lastly, Justice’s MFI charge daily penalties for each day due is late. The rate is 12.5%. We use group liability in a high social capital area in the hopes that the members will keep each other at check since if one is late on repayment, the other group members are liable to repay on the person’s behalf.
Besides having clients who are educated and have stable income, the aforementioned ways ensure that for-profit like the one Justice works at minimizes arrears and defaults. Our choice of what sort of clients to work with in our microfinance project, illiterate and some of the poorest women in Ghana, brings up multiple intertwined constraints. Though mission and mindset between a for-profit, like SRF and non-profits are fundamentally different, there are lessons we can take away from the successes of for-profit MFI. One is that strong enforcement like penalty on arrears do decrease arrears and the risk of defaults. Finding creative solutions for achieving stronger enforcement, while not forgetting non-profit mission, tailored to the unique socioeconomic environment where we operate is a key step.
Credits: Harry Jung (intern, Bowdoin University)
Would you believe me if I told you this was the main source of drinking water for the people of Akuful Krodua?
There are two separate mud paths that lead to the watering hole. From a distance the tranquilizing sound of the spring announces its presence beyond the lush greenery that creates a cool atmosphere. The water is still, stagnant and the only disturbance is provided by the small tadpoles that share the water the people.
In Akufful Krodua, many people believe that because the water is surrounded by trees and greenery, this provides for a natural purification of the water. While some people boil the water before drinking it, many in the community drink directly from the water body without even using aqua tablets to purify the water. Moreover there are no pipes in the community. There is a borehole on the outskirts, but it is salty so it is not drinkable.
Along, with the Project Manager of the Micro-Finance, Emanuel Yamoah and another foreign volunteer, I had the opportunity to discuss this issue with Ms. Helen, the Acting Head Mistress of the Akufful Krodua Roman Catholic School. Ms. Helen stated that the students drink the water and they seem to be fine with drinking it, so she assumes that people in the community are also alright with the water as well. Ms. Helen, lives in Kasoa, a town about an hour away from Akuful Krodua. She told us that she doesn’t even use that water to wash her hands, much less to drink it.
Emmauel Yamoah, who visits the community on a regular basis has been a witness to the boils on the faces of people in the community. In a specific case he noted that a woman’s rice selling business was negatively impacted by the boil on her face that was oozing a yellow puss. Other people seeing her in this condition refused to buy from her. Emanuel believes that a possible cause of these boils could be from the water that the people are drinking.
The Acting Headmistress said a government personnel came to teach the students how to treat the water on one occasion, but since there has been no further to action to educate the students as well as the members of the community on health and sanitation measures.
Patriots Ghana is seeking to start discussions on an initiative to incorporate a health and wellness aspect of the Micro-Finance Project in Akuful Krodua. Some solutions that can be readily implemented includes having health related workshops in schools as well as in the community. The aim of these workshops would be to educate the people on how to ensure that the water they drink is safe for consumption and to inform them of additional steps they can take to prevent illnesses and complications. In the meantime before these workshops are implemented, Patriots Ghana will begin conducting research in the community to best address the issue, and also helping to secure donations of aqua tablets to support this new initiative in Akufful Krodua.
Patriots Ghana Intern
Florida State University student
2018 Boren Scholar.
Trissanne Keen, a previous intern of Patriots Ghana has been offered an internship position on the microfinance project. Trissanne is a Florida State University student, a recipient of the 2018 David L. Boren Scholarship Award and through the program, She is currently studying at the University of Ghana (UG). This Award provides students with the opportunity to study less commonly taught languages in world regions critical to U.S. National Security. She spent two months in Gainesville learning how to speak Twi and she is currently also taking a twi class at UG among other classes. You can read more about the award here : https://www.borenawards.org/
Last year, during her internship, she worked on the child labor and trafficking project, and served as a team leader. She led efforts of 7 local and international volunteers to implement innovative project activities and strategies to address child labor and trafficking in the Awutu Senya East and West Districts. Her team carried out several child rights advocacy and educational awareness campaigns, research and one on one tutoring. She also carried out a capstone project that analyzed the academic and social performance of sponsored students after they have been rescued from child labor and trafficking.
Below is what Trissanne had to say:
“It’s already been three weeks since I’ve been in Ghana. After completing my Twi summer class and enrolling in courses at the University of Ghana, I’m proud to announce that I will begin my internship with Patriots Ghana next week. For the fall semester, I will be working on the Patriots Ghana Micro-Finance Project. This projects empowers women by equipping them with financial knowledge to start and expand their small businesses. The project also facilitates a stronger sense of community among women. Having the opportunity to intern with Patriots Ghana last year, I know that I will be surrounded by dedicated and passionate Project Coordinators. I’m looking forward to having a great experience again!!!”
From September to December 2018, she would be playing the role of Project Development Intern. In the next couple of months she would be working directly with Patriots Ghana and our Partner organization, Gadrage Aid Foundation International (GAFI). One of her main tasks would be to work with project team to develop a document that facilitate learning of basic twi language for international volunteers to ensure effective communication in the project. Other tasks she would be engaged in are:
We look forward to working together towards providing interventions that lead to social and financial freedom for women.
The SeedScience project is developed as an innovative intervention for improving science education in Ghana. Our goal is to put the skills of professional science educators in service of local science teachers in developing countries. The short-term goal consists of showing them a different method of teaching with the aim of engaging 10-18 years old students through hands-on science experiments. Training of local teachers will last about ten weeks for each community. After this period, they will possess a different point of view on teaching and will be able to perform and describe the experiments. Moreover, they will learn how to set up new experiments and how to obtain cheap or free materials to conduct them. Partner schools will receive long-term science kits and the local teachers will keep in touch with each other and with project members to share ideas and solve eventual issues. In addition, selected local educators can continue to training other teachers. In this way, a network of high-level science teachers will be created. The development of these local educators and the very low cost of experiments materials will make the project highly sustainable. We are currently recruiting for positions for a period between October 1st and December 15th 2018.
As a volunteer of the SeedScience project (www.seedscience.it) you’ll be flanked to a project member to offer valid support during the training of local science teachers. You’ll work both with teachers and students. Your activities will mainly depend on your background. If you’re a science a student or you work in the field, you’ll be able to directly participate to the training, both as a trainer and in the same way of local teachers. You could also develop a few teaching topics based on your expertise in a collaboration with a project member. If you don’t have a scientific background, there are still many ways to be able to help. We need all across the training people to assist us in the classroom, to find missing materials for the experiments and to help us to set up new ones.
Role of SeedScience Project Volunteer/Intern
Requirements for SeedScience Project Volunteer/intern:
To apply for this position, kindly complete an online application via the link below:
NB: In most cases, the team would contact you for a Skype or phone interview to learn more about you and an opportunity for you to learn more about the project before an offer of internship/ Volunteering is sent to you. If you do not receive an email from Patriots Ghana in 48 hours, kindly email the team.
International Women’s Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. International Women’s Day (IWD) has occurred for well over a century, with the first March 8 IWD gathering supported by over a million people in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland. With the World Economic Forum’s 2017 Global Gender Gap Report findings telling us that gender parity is over 200 years away – there has never been a more important time to keep motivated and #PressforProgress. And with global activism for women’s equality fuelled by movements like #MeToo, #TimesUp and more – there is a strong global momentum striving for gender parity. And while we know that gender parity won’t happen overnight, the good news is that across the world women are making positive gains day by day. Plus, there’s indeed a very strong and growing global movement of advocacy, activism, and support. (https://www.internationalwomensday.com)
On this day, we honour Madame Cecelia Essel. Cecelia is one of the first five women that received a loan from the microfinance project in 2014 – a project that provides low-interest micro-loans to support rural women in agri-business and trade. Due to her commitment and vibrancy in the group, she became the first group leader of the women who are beneficiaries. She currently manages a gari processing business and also runs the only grocery retail shop in her village, Akuful Krodua, Central Region, Ghana.
Before being enrolled in the project, Cecelia was running her little retail store in the community and was gaining little to no profits. Through our financial management and literacy training, she identified gari processing as a viable business in the community and received our loan as her initial capital. The cost of producing the gari is Three hundred and Seventy-Five Ghana cedes (Gh¢ 375.00) and makes an average return of Five Hundred and Fifty Ghana cedis (Gh ¢550.00) per production cycle – every 5days.
Through the project, she has expanded her retail store, can now purchase raw materials for the gari production throughout the year and can afford to hire others. It takes her about 5days to finish the production cycle and she transports them to either Kasoa or Bawjiase market for sales on Tuesdays. During recent evaluation visit she mentioned, “Almost, I ensure all my products are sold to the latter before returning home”. This is because she has created a commendable goodwill in the community and the Kasoa market. She has also created a good communication structure with her customers and thus she produces based on the demands of her customers. Those that patronise her products make orders and she produces to meet their needs and this helps to reduce her losses.
“I am glad to benefit from this loan, I am now able to financially support the needs of my children, especially in their education. Particularly, I am happy that I no longer have to randomly borrow money to buy inputs for my business, I have a regular income to buy them with cash whenever I need them for my work” – Cecilia.
Patriots Ghana is committed to empowering more women in rural communities to press for progress and driving gender parity in Ghana and we are proud of Madame Cecilia Essel and other beneficiaries of the microfinance project through our partnership with Gadrage AID Foundation International. If you are interested in donating to support more rural women in business, please email us at email@example.com.
Happy International Women’s Day! Press For Progress!
Source: Emmanuel Yamoah (National Projects Manager)