Tuesday, May 23, 2017
Microfinance - Reach Out
This morning we learned about the organization Reach Out by visiting the Mbuya Parish HIV/AIDS Initiative site. Since its launch in 2001, it has grown to comprise of four main sites that have cared for over 11,000 people. We discussed how they test people for HIV and if their results come back positive, they provide medical treatment and care through ways such as antiretroviral therapy or mother-to-mother community supporters. This organization also helps clients through village savings and loan associations (abbreviated as VSLA). These groups instill saving cultures, increase empowerment, provide small loans for group members, and reduce dependence by starting up/ameliorating existing income-generating activities. Groups contain 15-30 members that are self-selected. There are currently 402 groups across Uganda; today we split up into three groups to visit three of them. My group visited one called “Friends Forever.” The members specialized in making jewelry and pooled the money they each earn in a box. Some groups also have linkages with banks to store their money. Reach Out teaches effective practices to deal with money to ensure sustainability. 90% of group members are female, which can create a cultural shift by promoting independence, especially when it comes to dealing with a household’s money. Do you think this disparity between gender involvement in these groups affects the sustainability of the program? If yes, how so?