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.
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.
Patriots Ghana will also do our best to find internship and volunteering opportunities to anyone who does not see their desired positions on our website. If you would like to pursue an internship in a specific field and do not see it above, please communicate your interests to us and we will gladly assist you to find potential placements.
We have contacts, partners and relationships with numerous members and organizations in the community that offer international internships, and would be glad to accommodate you when possible.
Patriots Ghana may also provide internship and volunteering positions based on current or upcoming projects. Please do not hesitate to contact us with your interests or requirements.
Patriots Ghana welcomes volunteers or interns who want to use their skills to improve the operations of the organization. Development interns work on projects such as grant writing, fundraising, micro finance, strengthening the organization’s structure, spearheading new initiatives, website management, human resources, and working to build partnerships with other organizations as well as strengthening the capacity of member/affiliate organisations. Development volunteers may also be assigned to assist in the creation of new projects in some selected communities of Ghana. Development volunteers and interns are welcome to come to Patriots any time of the year.
Patriots Ghana organizes free medical health screening at least once every year in deprived rural communities to give equal opportunities to the less privileged and remote communities who are hard to reach in-terms of healthcare services. This project is organized in partnership with local and international organizations that have interest in improving the healthcare in Africa.