The Microfinance Insider is a forum for graduate students engaged or interested in working in the field of microfinance. Through weekly posts and comments we hope to inspire students and foster the creation of a knowledge community of bloggers with a commitment to financial access and first hand industry information.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

microfinance in Accra, Ghana

As a student in Program Evaluation in Developing Countries, taught by Professor Rema Hanna at NYU in Ghana, I was able to perform a two-day internship with the Microfinance and Community Development Organization (MFCDO) / Open Heart Solutions Agency.

The MFCDO’s self-stated goals are to “promote community development, poverty minimization, micro-enterprises, rural industries, and social entrepreneurship through microfinance services.” The MFCDO works toward these goals through two programs: Susu banking—a savings and loans program, and the support of community-based organizations at the Buduburam Refugee Camp—a Liberian refugee camp outside of Accra. Since Buduburam recently entered the resettlement process (to a refugee camp in Liberia), the MFCDO hopes to restructure its community development programs to target Ghanian women, utilizing the existing infrastructure that once served Liberian women.

Susu banking is a centuries-old banking system that offers savings and loan opportunities to micro-entrepreneurs—mainly roadside stall vendors and market traders—that do not have access to traditional banking systems. Typically, a Susu client will contribute a small amount of savings to his Susu collector at the end of the work day, and after one period, which is usually 31 days, the Susu collector returns 30 days of savings to the client, keeping 1 day’s savings as a banking fee.

The MFCDO operates its Susu banking arm out of the Kaneshie Market, Accra’s second-busiest market, concentrated in a five-story building that occupies several city blocks and extending to the surrounding streets. Twelve of the twenty Susu agents are stationed in booths, from which they accept payments from their specific clients and also make rounds to check on each client, at least one time per day. MFCDO clients save at rates between 50 pesewas (about 50 cents US) to a few Ghana cedis (one US dollar is worth slightly less that one Ghana cedi). The MFCDO has 7,000 clients in and around the Kaneshie market, a number that has grown rapidly since it’s beginning in 2003.


Iyanna said...

I just wanted to let you know that I am reading your blog. I am very interested in microfinance in Ghana so I am very interested in hearing more about your experience. Thank you for sharing.

denys said...

I am very interested in your project. What do i do if i want to enter into microfinanacing in Accra?

Katie said...

Hello! I stumbled upon your blog while researching for microfinance programs in Accra---you are doing such wonderful work!! I will keep reading but if you have any thoughts or suggestions for a friend I know in Accra (i volunteered there for a bit and still keep in touch) who is interested in starting a small business but cannot afford to do so, could you let me know? I think a microfinance program would be perfect for him but am not sure what eligibility requirements there are and how he would go about it..sorry, i'm pretty clueless :-P I'm trying to help by researching but if you have any suggestions, could you just let me know? And keep up the great work---way to change the world!!! :)