So this is actually something I put together for GB’s blog, but given the lack of posts here, I figured I could double dip:
Staring out the window of the bouncing Ford van, the small farming community of Ekumfi Egyankwa comes into view and smiling children wave in excitement. It’s day 3 of Oxford University’s Microfinance Brigade and we’ve arrived in time for a morning meeting with the executive committee of the newly founded Egyankwa Community Development Fund, a meeting filled with discussion in which students and community members established goals and objectives for the week. Oxford’s approach was three-fold: To promote a sustainable savings culture within the community, establish a child’s savings program, and prepare the committee to receive, asses, and award their first round of microloans.
Following the meeting, the students divided into groups to address the initial status of each objective. The group focused on savings culture visited the Community Fund office to review recent savings records and frequency of deposits while the child’s account group headed over to the school to speak with teachers about the viability of their plan. The loans group went door-to-door throughout the community with local translators to speak with community members about their financial histories and microloan interests.
The openness of all the community members we met was wonderful, everyone was eager to shake hands and make friends. What defines Egyankwa as a community is truly the dedication of several key leaders, from the 81-year-old treasurer of the Community Fund to Isaac and Phillip, two passionate young schoolteachers. Everyone was genuinely excited to work with us and contribute in some way to Microfinance Brigades. In the span of the 10-day brigade, over 100 new savers had opened accounts at the Community Fund, six applicants had received loans and over 30 school-aged children had opened their first savings accounts.