This is the “ambulance” that Song Kunda purchased with proceeds from its microcredit funds, to transport women in labour to the local health clinic.
Tostan’s Community Development Grants are small grants provided to Community Management Committees (CMCs) to help fund community development projects as well as to establish CMC-run microcredit funds. They are having a major impact, providing sustainable sources of income for those living in resource-poor rural communities in West Africa.
Community Development Grants give Community Management Committees and individual community members the opportunity to put the literacy, numeracy, and project management knowledge they have gained during the Community Empowerment Program into practice. More importantly, the grants provide a way for community members to participate in income-generating activities, allowing them to provide for their families and invest in their communities.
How does it work?
Tostan provides Community Management Committees with a small grant—usually between $300 and $1,000. The Community Management Committees often use this grant to establish a rotating microcredit fund, which helps villagers, particularly women, with the investment they need to start small businesses, invest in agriculture, or take on other income-generating activities.
Each Community Management Committee operates the microcredit fund based on a group-lending, revolving-funds system. The Community Management Committee works together to set the size and length of the loans they will grant. Strong community ties help encourage a high repayment rate.
The Community Management Committees then use the repayment fees as well as the principal to expand the number of loans available, to undertake community projects, or to establish a solidarity fund for children’s educational expenses and emergency medical needs.
Community Development Grants have been proven to provide the practical means to develop projects which support the community’s vision for their development. They also help reduce poverty in rural villages by expanding economic opportunities, especially for women.
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Example of the grants ledger in Song Kunda, The Gambia
Song Kunda’s microcredit program has facilitated countless loans to villagers with 100% repayment over the past 10 years. At the same time, the community has also grown the fund from $500 to $4000. They have also been able to use some of the money they have accumulated to buy a vehicle to transport women in labour to the local health clinic, as well as providing education fees and school uniforms for families who cannot pay.