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Short update of SYPO's microfinance project in Uganda. Read about our story in numbers to date, and future plans for expansion. And see our BBC interview...
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One of those rare moments...

Designing and implementing aid projects in Africa is always a huge challenge. Projects such as building waterpumps or clinics can quickly raise important questions: do we have the right impact? Are we efficient enough? How can we ensure long-term sustainability? Are we taking away from local initiative? Are we competing with local business in a way that's unfair?

SYPO has been working in Uganda since 2003, and has started projects as varied as dairy cooperatives and small health centers. We know how hard it can be. And that makes us all the more excited about the phase that our microfinance organization is in right now.  

Four years ago we set out to design a microfinance business model capable of reaching women in deeply remote areas; places where no one has access to the crucial financial services necessary to grow out of poverty. Simple microcredits to invest in the start or expansion of small businesses - farms, shops, etc. We used innovative technology and a unique organization model, with less than half the cost of peer organizations, allowing us to go deeper into rural areas. Since then, we have given out over 12,000 microcredits, at 99.8% repayment. We cover the costs of our organization with interest paid by the clients, ensuring that we can keep helping more and more women. Our impact assessment with Columbia University showed an increase in income and wellbeing levels of the clients - who invest most of their increased income in future success of their children.

We need your help to keep this story going. Thousands of women are still waiting for microcredits, and for a chance to work their way out of poverty. Now that we are in a phase of unambiguous success - with a strong local organization in place capable of spending 100% of your donation directly on helping these women within weeks of your donation, and then again and again with their repayments, it seems an absolute waste not to have enough funds to do so.

More information on how we plan to grow to 15,000 microcredits - and how you can help - below.

BBC World News interview with the director of the Lipdub
How cool is this. The BBC Focus on Africa - easily our favorite show - said they "thoroughly enjoyed our video". The BBC called us for an interview with Ivan, the Director of the 'lipdub' video we shot some time ago, to ask him about the Golden Radiator price we won. We will be shooting another video with Ivan in 2016 - which will again highlight the strength and initiative of the Ugandan women we work with.

99.8% repayment... and other numbers

Since the start of the microfinance organization in April 2011, we have given out 12,203 loans, to a total of 5,678 women (some women receive more than one microcredit over time). The women collectively had 19,464 children and 3,802 husbands, all of whom benefited directly from the increased income that the microcredits brought. In total the loans were worth $2.7 million. The women earned on average less than $2.50 a day when they started their first loan, but significantly increased their income and subjective wellbeing after one or more microcredits. The repayment rate stands at 99.8% - another sign that the women are able to successfully generate income from the invested microcredits.

Please see the Impact Assessment that we did in 2014 together with Columbia University, to read more about how the microcredits correlate with increased income and wellbeing levels (image below for summary).

So what's next? 2016 and beyond.

2016 will be an exciting year for SYPO. We will start working with ‘mobile money’; transactions of microcredits and their repayments through the mobile phone network. Currently we have ~200,000 cash transactions in the field every year – most of not more than a few dollars. That is a safety risk and an efficiency loss. Once we become Uganda’s first 100% cashless microfinance organization, we will be able to serve women in even more remote regions. 

Having a mobile connection with the women will also allow us to help them in different ways. In 2015, 35 clients have died of preventable causes; in pregnancy, traffic accidents, diabetes, or HIV. In 2016 we will pilot a project to send medical information to the clients regarding safe pregnancies and diabetes, through text messages and poster campaigns. The clients can decide to tell us when their pregnant, so that we can send them information directly relevant for the phase of pregnancy that they're in. In the meantime we will invest in the physical medical infrastructure in the region, so that the women have places to go to for safe medical care. We hope that this pilot in 2016 is a success, so that we can expand this service in future years.

But the core focus will remain on growth. Thousands of women have indicated they also need microcredits. We want to grow to 15,000 women in the region; and then expand horizontally in the products that we offer. We know that the women do not only need microcredits, but also microsavings, insurance, etc. A very exciting challenge with enormous potential impact in the coming years!

Donate and be a microbanker yourself!

We still need a lot more funds to grow. We cover all expenses of the organization, but hundreds of women have indicated that they too need a microcredit to work for a better future - and we simply do not have enough funds to meet the demand. Your donation is guaranteed to have immediate impact, will reach the field within weeks, and will be used over and over again to help different women start or expand their business. You can donate through our Microbanker website (see below), send it to our PayPal account info@microbanker.com, or contact us (info@microbanker.com) for larger donations. 

To show the potential of microfinance, we have created www.microbanker.com, where you can select a business plan of a woman in Uganda, donate her microcredit, and follow her repayments over time. You can even recycle those repayments to yet another microcredit, and ask questions to 'your client'. 

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Copyright © 2015 Stichting SYPO, All rights reserved.


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