NEF 2004 Annual Report - Near East Foundation

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NEF 2004 Annual Report - Near East Foundation

next fiscal year in 2005.

Small loans to women began in early June 2003 to

establish micro-enterprises and income-generating

activities, managed by a loan committee of five

members—four of them women. The aim is to

reinforce the health program by supplementing family

income, improving living standards and increasing the

affordability of health services. Loans of $40 to $320

with repayment periods of 10-12 months were made,

mostly for small commercial activities and donkey carts

for water transport and milk production. NEF uses the

credit model we originally designed and tested in

Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt. With additional capital,

the value of our urban portfolio around Khartoum

could easily rise to $40,000 per year by the end of the

The health center is the smallest experiment in community-based credit of NEF’s six credit

funds in and around the capital’s scattered resettlements. They include work with a local nongovernmental

organization with nearly 200 disabled members. Interestingly, the aim of

Disabled People International is not primarily self-help, but health and education services and

vocational training, primarily for women and youth of the entire community.

NEF’s rural area credit fund, established with the

cooperation of the Iyal Village Council, continues to

serve the 57 villages of Gerigkh with their 30,000

inhabitants. With the previous year’s repayments at

100 percent, this second cycle of funding benefited

more individuals. The program’s effectiveness is

reflected in the increased income of the borrowers—

and the fact they have now taken full responsibility for

these new activities. The hope is that more than 200

families will benefit from each lending cycle. Nine

additional villages have been studied for future credit

assistance.

Particularly heartening is the success of our credit fund

in the rural village of Emeki, situated along the Nile

about 350km north of Khartoum. While small in size,

Emeki has a predominantly visually-impaired

population, who presented very special challenges. Our

training, forms and manuals had to be adapted to

meet their requirements; NEF also helped establish

and supply the headquarters office maintained by the

Union of Emeki Visually Impaired. With all loans repaid

in the first round, we were able to fund more projects

this year, and we can happily report that borrowers

were so intent on achieving a success, their sighted

neighbors joined in to help. Some of the visuallyimpaired

now have achieved a good income, gained the confidence to manage larger amounts

of money, and are willing to transfer profits to support their credit union. Unfortunately many

others must wait for their loan and the same opportunity.

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