Sierra Leone - Rural Finance and Community Improvement Programme (RFCIP) - June 2022
Marie Thaimu Kamara - The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Government of Sierra Leone (GoSL) established the Rural Finance and Community Improvement Programme (RFCIP) in 2008 to help ensure that rural communities have access to the financial services they need. The programme now boasts of 76 Rural Financial Institutions (RFIs) located in rural towns and villages across the country.
Marie is 49 years old, married and the mother of three children. She is a preschool teacher and earns a modest salary, which is just enough to pay for food to feed her family. In 2012, she joined the Mambolo Financial Services Association (FSA) with two men and two women to form the “Papa Momo” credit group. Each member contributed SLE 2,000 (US$140) to buy shares in the FSA worth SLE 10,000. As a shareholder, Marie was able to get her first loan of SLE 8,000 (four times the value of her shares) and invested in a start-up business selling cement, rice and flour. She paid her loan back early and with some of the money she had earned in her business, she bought more shares and got a second, bigger loan to grow her new business and to get started in rice production. Since then, she has had seven or eight loans, each time paying it back and adding to the number of FSA shares she owns so she can borrow even more the next time to expand her business even further.
“I consider myself a powerful and successful woman. I have employed my husband, sent my two daughters to university and my boy to secondary school. My next dream is to build a big shop where I can sell a greater variety of goods.”
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