announces first partnership in Cameroon with GHAPE has announced its first partnership in Cameroon, with the microfinance institution GHAPE:

Overview: GHAPE is a registered non-governmental, not-for-profit and apolitical organization dedicated to poverty alleviation in Cameroon, West Africa. GHAPE believes poverty is one of the oldest diseases known to mankind, and that it is a "germ" caused by the vast greed of this world. Bernadette A. Ngoh founded GHAPE in October 1998 in order to help fight this disease and improve the plight of the world's unfortunate class, "the poor."

GHAPE’s mission is to make credit accessible to the bottom fifty percent (50%) of those living below the poverty line. By providing credit that can be used for investment in income-generating activities, GHAPE works to improve its client's quality of life and, in doing so, make the world a better place. All of GHAPE's activities are geared towards sustainable poverty alleviation.

Client Assessment:Targeting the poor remains a central issue in poverty alleviation policies and programs. In seeking to serve the poorest of the poor, GHAPE has developed the Basic Needs Test (BNT), a poverty measurement and targeting tool used for screening eligibility into GHAPE's programs. The BNT is constructed under the premise that the basic needs of life - food, water, shelter, clothing, lighting, health and education - are universal. The BNT is adaptable to the realities of each community GHAPE serves, and it is designed to reflect the gravity of each basic need component. The application of the BNT is also participatory.

Program Design: The problems facing the poor, especially poor women and young people, are multiple and interrelated. Because of this, GHAPE has developed an innovative poverty alleviation package, Empowerment Credit (EC), which contains the fundamental empowerment resources required to fight abject poverty. Included in EC are trainings (business development service), credit and social education. To guarantee sustainability and maximize GHAPE's scarce resources, this package is administered sequentially, and it simultaneously meets the current and emerging needs of borrowers.

The attributes of GHAPE's EC program design are simple and straight forward:

  • The BNT is used to determine eligibility.
  • Five self-chosen eligible individuals form a group.
  • Eight groups form a center.
  • Individuals within groups are given loans for self-chosen activities for which they have received training.
  • Program Reach: GHAPE Loans have been disbursed to over 1160 borrowers, and amounts range from $30 to $800. Repayment rate has remained 100% since inception. Loans have been invested in groceries, food cultivation, vegetable gardening, poultry, pig and goat farming, tailoring, embroidery, restaurants and mobile snacks vendors.

    Program Impact: The impact of GHAPE clients' business investments on their families and communities is overwhelming. After receiving capital, many of clients change their dress, visit the hospital more, increase the quantity and quality of their meals and find employment. GHAPE clients also empower their children by spending time with them in their businesses, teaching them life skills, learning culture with them, and sharing wisdom and folklore.

    Echoes reaching GHAPE's office also state that women borrowers have reported more control over their sexuality as they are no longer forced into prostitution by fear of their children starving or being driven from classes. They also able to tell their husband “No” or “Not convenient now”. For once poor women are taking seats around policy tables in families, quarter and village levels. Borrowers are also requesting bigger loans for expansion and diversification.

    GHAPE and Kiva: The demand for GHAPE services has continued to increase. Today GHAPE is faced with many challenges such as inadequate credit funds, training materials and computers, poor accounting software, no website and no motor-bikes to enable us reach the geographical hard to reach areas. GHAPE's partnership with Kiva, however, is a powerful step towards becoming a stronger and more sustainable organization

    GHAPE is a strong organization with a social mission that is proud to be a part of, and we hope that you enjoy lending through this partnership.

    About the author

    Fiona Ramsey