Fantsuam update - micro-finance, political delays and fraudsters

John Dada: Updates from FF: We have taken on a new staff, Helen in the microfinance section.... We have revised and upgraded our microfinance program. We are now more involved in encouraging clients to save rather than borrow. Small groups of clients, up to five, will be assisted to set up their savings account at Fantsuam, and they can now give each other loans from their savings. It is a method of helping clients to provide banking services for themselves. Fantsuam's role is that of facilitator and that is where we will earn our fees. This accords well with our efforts to become more of a training hub, providing capacity building to grow human capital, and make people more independent of the high interest rate banking sector

Helen will work closely with Comfort as her assistant.

(Note from Pamela - Helen is fortunate to have Kazanka Comfort's help. Comfort had to retire from her work as General Secretary of the micro-finance programme last year due to ill health. It was Comfort who went to Bagledesh to learn about Grameen's micro-finance work in the 1990's and then adapted it to the local situation in Nigeria. She worked tirelessly on it in all the intervening years. She is a remarkable woman. I have enormously appreciated her friendship and wisdom when I have been at Fantsuam. You can see her talking about the microfinance programme in this video, after a 45 second  introduction by John)

Fraudsters

(Regarding) the present instability caused by the last sectarian violence in Kafanchan. An untold story that followed the sectarian violence was the 'invasion' of Kafanchan by fraudsters who promised high interest rates to savers.

Many clients withdrew their savings, some sold their houses and other properties to invest in these scams, which have now bursted, leaving people far poorer than before the crisis. So FF is back in the saddle of helping those whom we can help to get out of this mess. Churches were not left out of this Get-Rich_quick scam, and many of them have lost church tithes which they 'invested' in these scams. As you know, we are very religious lot, and for that sector to have fallen into the hands of fraudsters shows you the depth of poverty that has hit Kaf.

Toilets and political delays

We got a grant of UKP5,000 from Kitchen Table Trust, UK to build 3 toilets at the new market Kafanchan. There has been new local Government elections and the new power holders are taking their time to settle down, so we have not been given the papers with which to commence work at the site. So I am thinking of asking the Trust to hang on to the money until the politicians here are ready.

(Note from Pamela - The old market was destroyed by fire in the sectarian violence. many of the micro-finance clieants lost their businesses and were not able to repay their loans. See Kafanchan Peace Traders )

Bankruptcies and health problems

(Regarding) the present instability caused by the last sectarian violence in Kafanchan (and looking five years ahead) I hope it will not take that long to get some semblance of normalty to Kafanchan economy again....the damage done by the scammers is on a scale far higher than the damage we had from the burning and looting of the political crisis. Many small businesses have gone bankrupt and there is the attendant increase in folks with stress induced hypertension and other ailments

(Note from Pamela. John shared this news during our online meeting this morning - January 17th 2013.)

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