Chantal Kidiata is the president of the association “Ma famille” in Kenge, a city situated about 300 km east of Kinshasa. Following suggestions of the NGO Caritas, a partner of UNICEF in the development of a microloans project in Kinshasa and in the province of Bandundu, she decided to develop a savings and loan system within her association.
Each of the 25 members, most of them women, contributes 1,000 Congolese francs (1 euro) each week, and the sum collected is loaned to one or more people, with a monthly interest rate of 10%, so that they may carry out or strengthen a commercial activity.
A loan for the execution of a communal project
Caritas has previously trained the women in simplified management, and taught them to pay attention to gender issues, by encouraging husbands and their wives to manage their budget together. Later, once UNICEF is sure that the members of “Ma famille” have internalized good ideas of savings and loans, a loan will be given to the association for the execution of a communal project, the profits of which will be shared between the members.
Chantal has already borrowed 30,000 Congolese francs (300 euros) to replenish the stock of a stationary store that she runs downtown. She easily sold the merchandise and was able to repay her loan, with the 10% interest, in just one month.
In most cases, obtaining a loan has greatly improved their relationships with their husbands
An example for other women
She has also been able to establish a working capital, and the stationary store now brings in between 400 and 500 euros each month. Chantal is an example for the other women in the association, and they often come to her for advice. Some of them have had problems with their husbands: when the husbands see the women with a large sum of money, they want to manage it themselves, or they want it “to go for a beer,” as Chantal said, half-jokingly. But in most cases, obtaining a loan has greatly improved the women’s relationships with their husbands, because they no longer have to live on their husbands’ charity.
Learning to manage a budget through savings
Before, the women had to wait for their husbands’ money, and when they had it, they hurried to spend it all in one day. Now, they’ve learned to manage a budget, and that contributes to their independence. “The fact that we’re all together in these loans, along with the trainings we’ve completed, has radically changed the way we manage money at home,” said Chantal.
And often, husbands work with their wives in commercial activities, bringing their own financial contributions. They too become a part of the loan community.
Hélène Komerwa est bénévole en Communication à l’UNICEF RDC. Journaliste de formation, elle est intéressée par la lutte pour les droits des enfants.
Hélène Komerwa is a Communication volunteer at UNICEF DRC. Originally a journalist, she is interested in the fight for children's rights.
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