During this week's online UK-Nigeria meeting we were pleased to hear that Comfort has returned from the USA and is now back at Fantsuam Foundation. Comfort has successfully completed her two week course at the Carsey institute of New Hampshire University where she was attending their two week Sustainable Microenterprise and Development programme. Although it had only been two days since her return to Fantsuam she had already been sharing her knowledge with her microfinance team and is busy implementing a new savings scheme for the local woman. This came about because, whilst on the course, Comfort was able to see an solution to a problem that the staff had experienced which had been staring them in the face but it took a trip to American for it to all fall into place - John Dada described it as being “the A- ha experience!” John and Comfort went on to explain the situation to us all in more detail:
FF had started building on the Nigerian traditional savings program which we were informed virtually every village woman subscribes to. However, the saving product FF introduced last year was yet to get to this target group. Apparently some of these women will have four different savings groups in their villages, and yet save only one with FF. These village savings groups often run into problems of thefts, fire, fraud etc. Comfort and John realised that FF can spare the women all of that risk and the woman know FF well enough to trust them.
John said that:
“We always knew that was the market we should be exploring and make ourselves a major player, after all, there are not many microfinance organizations with Fantsuam’s kind of grassroots outreach. Now we have figured out how they can bring in all their savings to us: more security, less hassle, more reliable than how they currently operate -
It’s just that we have never thought to offer them this service”
As John told us “Even our own Field Officers belong to some of those village savings groups!! But it never occurred to them (or to us!!) that FF can offer a superior service.”
This scheme will encourage saving rather than borrowing. We were told that the woman save for roofing sheets, children's fees, farm work, Christmas celebration etc
- Fantsuam Foundation are reactivating their Health Insurance and Pension schemes: Yakubu is following up on these. He was unable to attend the meeting as he and some youths were at the local radio house for a HIV/AIDS programme.
- Emmanuel was representing John at a Water Resources workshop in Kaduna.
- Ajala, who has a bullet lodged in his eye: Learned that he teaches at a primary school in a village about 20km from Kafanchan.
John told us that the new market is filling up gradually with more shops opening daily.
John has been asked by the Yoruba group in Kafanchan to mediate between the Muslim and Christiantian groups as the last post- election violence has caused a schism between them.
John said this is one of the reconciliation efforts that FF should be focussing on and it was good they saw FF as a neutral arbiter.
A Curfew is still being enforced from 11pm to 6am.