Rethinking the rules of microcredit

A project of consulting to the vision that drives the intervention

As for many microcredit projects, the aim is to provide currency to people (or groups) who are considered at risk of default for socio-health-economic reasons and, as a consequence, cannot access the traditional bank circuits. From 2010, the Gulu district (North-Western Uganda) is the context in which a microcredit project is providing groups of “vulnerable” beneficiaries with small loans to start productive activities or small enterprises (husbandry, farming, shops). The project has been supported by Fondazioni4Africa, a group composed by the biggest Italian foundations actively committed in international cooperation (Fondazione Cariplo, Compagnia di San Paolo, Fondazione Monte Paschi di Siena, Fondazione Cariparma) and it is implemented in collaboration with the local NGO Comboni Samaritans of Gulu. Over the years the project involved an increasing number of individuals and groups (at July 2014, the direct beneficiaries counted more than 600) and it was able to gradually increase the amount of circulating fund without excessively sacrifice the risks for loans recovery that would eventually result in the erosion of the whole fund.

This change has brought to a process of decision making with important consequences for the vision of the project that was guided by the consultants of CFI – Multicultural Organizational Psychology. In 2013, once the support by Fondazioni4Africa was concluded, CFI, as consultant of the association Good Samaritan, has proposed to Fondazione Cariplo a five-year strategy for the use of the microcredit fund. The strategy introduced a number of changes and a radical redefinition of its structure in relationship with the aim of protecting the original vision of the project and of challenging some of the common sense assumptions connected with (micro)credit. In particular, the strategy rely on the need of spreading the opportunity of providing loans also to “individual” beneficiaries (who resulted to be more reliable than groups, over time), a push to increase, in a gradual and controlled way, the amount of circulating fund, and the decision to raise the amount of single loan for each beneficiary. But most of all, the project is guided by CFI on the dimension of sustainability, characterized by a delicate balance between the attention to drive the project through mere economic indicators and the support to local entrepreneurship, to families and, indirectly, to the entire community.

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