Access to bank loans
is practically impossible for the poor in Cameroon. The guarantees they
have to furnish are beyond their capability and the procedures are
long, expensive and without assurance. Some may succeed in obtaining a
loan from usurers, but struggle with their excessive interest rates.
Against this background, the poor remain marginalized as they lack the
financial or material means to ensure their livelihood, systems to
secure savings, or technical insights and advice to render their
initiatives more successful.
A Micro-Finance Task Force, composed of representatives from seven
different network member organizations, has designed a micro-finance
program that provides low-interest and
generally guarantee-free loans and close accompaniment for projects of poor communities, most of them
affiliated with RELUFA member organizations throughout Cameroon. Under the name Credit Against Poverty, the program was
oficially launched at its constitutive General Assembly of 27 August
2005 and became operational with the disbursement of the first CAP loans on 31 January 2007.
Since then the program has grown to offer a variety of loan products. CAP Holidays, for example, is geared towards University and High School students, enabling them to undertake small business ventures during the long and often idle summer break. RELUFA celebrated the 2008 International Women's Day by launching CAP for Women aimed at the self-development of society's underprivileged gender. Upon the request from subsistence farmers in the Far North, CAP for Scholars helps pay their children's tuition at the beginning of the new school year.
To apply for a
loan, the beneficiary submits a project proposal to the affiliated
member organization or other partner of RELUFA, and seeks her sponsorship for the loan request. The
sponsor conducts an economic analysis of the project,
interviews the beneficiary, evaluates her financial and technical
capacity to implement the project, and brings it before the network's
credit committee. This committee examines the project proposals and
appraisal reports from all applicants and makes a final decision on the
Upon approval, a loan agreement is signed by CAP as the lender, the
RELUFA member organization or partners as the sponsor and guarantor, and the
beneficiary as the borrower. CAP's staff then makes the funds available
to the sponsoring member organization, who ensures the disbursement of
the loan to the beneficiary and the repayments to CAP. The sponsor
provides further technical assistance and continued accompaniment in
the field to increase the success of the project.
CAP's repayment schedules are
flexible and tailored to the productive cycles of the community's
activities. The program sensitizes target groups and network members on
healthy micro-finance programs, teaches them bookkeeping skills, and
offers close accompaniment in the field. CAP further studies and
promulgates alternative savings systems and facilitates the exchange of
experiences between member organizations as well as beneficiaries..
RELUFA organizes workshops and seminars to sensitize RELUFA member
organizations and their target groups about the program's philosophy
and intentions, and to train them in project development, book keeping,
and general loans and savings operations.
CAP's vision, goal and objectives
task force at work...
CAP-related articles in the
Joining Hands Newsletter