Sierra Leone - Rural Finance and Community Improvement Programme (RFCIP) - June 2022
Mariama James Koroma - 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.
Mariama is 36 years old and a single mother of four children. One day, her husband left home and never came back. She got a job working in a cocoa nursery and was able to feed her children with the money she earned. Looking to the future, Mariama became a member of the local Financial Services Association (FSA) and saved money to be able to buy shares in the FSA that would make her eligible for a loan. In 2012, she got a loan of SLE 500 (US$35) and started a small business selling frozen fish. After paying back the loan, Mariama increased her shareholding and with a bigger loan purchased timber-processing machinery and started to sell lumber. Subsequent loans have allowed to expand her successful lumber business even further. With her earnings, she built a house for herself and one for her parents and is able to send her four children to school. “If you are a single mother, poor and with no other accessible options, and you have to feed your children, there is the risk that you turn to prostitution out of desperation. The Financial Services Association saved me from falling into that trap.”
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