A promising start for Yikri!
Hélène Chéron-Kientéga is the coordinator of Entrepreneurs du Monde’s programmes in Burkina Faso. She describes the rapid start-up of Yikri, the social microfinance programme created in February by Entrepreneurs du Monde.
You began your activities in the outlying areas of Ouagadougou. Why this choice of location?
“These neighbourhoods are undergoing a demographic explosion. They contain many young people as a result of the rural exodus, and living conditions there are very precarious. This has created a pool of micro-entrepreneurs, but classic microfinance institutions won’t touch them because they can’t offer any guarantee. Yikri’s mission is to provide them with opportunities.”
What is special about your services?
“The people we support only have the vaguest ideas about management. Our training is the key to them managing their business more effectively. Then, when a beneficiary asks for a loan, our representative visits them at their place of work. Together they analyse the business’s figures to calculate gross and net income, find ways to reduce certain costs, and assess the need for finance and the trader’s ability to repay, etc. This is often the first time that such a task has been undertaken.
Compulsory savings are also essential
At first, the €0.75 deposit required at each bi-monthly meeting seems very demanding, but these savings grow quickly. These sums are of course small, in keeping with the financial capacity of the beneficiaries, but somebody who deposits €0.90 rather than the compulsory €0.75 proves to us that they have understood the value of savings, which is a big step.
In spite of the precautions taken, some people will be dealt a blow by circumstances beyond their control. For example, one beneficiary received no further word from her husband, a gold prospector who was sending her a small sum every week for child maintenance. We worked with her to find a solution to this crisis. This is the “social” aspect of our microfinance methodology.”
What is the current state of the project?
“We already have 2,200 savers (shopkeepers, weavers, street food vendors, etc.), of whom half have a current loan.”
What are the key factors in your initial success?
“I would say trust and the team! Our beneficiaries live in severe poverty. They all have complicated and difficult life histories. They are rarely trusted by anybody. We give them the opportunity to prove that they can be trusted. For them it’s a chance to reintegrate into society that they seize gladly. As for the team, we have put a lot of effort into training and integration, and every Monday they all meet up to share successes and challenges. Everyone feels backed up and supported.”
What of the future?
“We’ve just opened a second service point in Ouagadougou and in January we will open another in Diébougou in the south-west of the country. In this very isolated rural area, we will particularly reach shea butter producers and cotton producers. We have already met them and they are eager for us to begin! We expect to support 4,000 new micro-entrepreneurs in 2016 and 6,000 in 2017.”
[edm/en/nos-actions/nos-partenaires-locaux/yikri/nos-actions/nos-partenaires-locaux/nafa-naana/”]Read more about the programme[/edm-cta]
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L’OCCITANE employees pledge to support the micro-entrepreneurs!
Employees of l’OCCITANE group can decide to make micro-donations through payroll giving: several centimes or several euros are automatically deducted from their salary every month.
It’s easy, up-to-date, supportive and it reduces tax by 66% of the value of the donation (in France).