Search Breaking Ground

Breaking Ground Photo Gallery


Recent News and Events


Breaking Ground on Facebook Breaking Ground on Twitter Breaking Ground on Vimeo Breaking Ground on Youtube Breaking Ground on Flickr

« The Building Blocks of Breaking Ground | Main | Celebrating International Women's Day: Support for Female Entrepreneurs »

Paul's Reflections, a Year Into the Program

 Jessica, Chymene and Paul at the business of Therese Tonfack Dongmo.

In Cameroon, women have historically been very active in generating income through activities such as sewing, agriculture, "bayam sellam" (those who buy and resell), running small shops, hair dressing and more. Because of a lack of education and access to finances, these activities have generally remained small-scale, providing a very minimal income.

Women were especially recognized for their contribution to small and medium enterprises in the 1980s when Cameroon faced a severe economic crisis and many men lost their jobs or had their wages reduced. In many families, survival depended upon the women's extraordinary ability to capture any opportunity in the informal sector. 

It is in this context that Breaking Ground launched the Women's Entrepreneurial Program to teach women how to manage businesses and to provide them with access to reduced financing rates on loans. So far, more than 55 women in Dschang have been trained, and 32 have received loans.

To ensure sustainability, we have joined with private partners to provide micro financing. We charge 5 percent interest, compared to the 12 to 18 percent charged by banks. We also want to avoid leading recipients into a cycle of debt. That's why we examine every proposed enterprise's potential profitability, debt load and risk. We want women to better manage the money they have and develop their line of credit. Also, as grantees pay back their loans, the money is used in a cycle to continue financing other women's business projects.

Our partner non-profits and micro-finance groups play very important roles in the program. In the beginning, Breaking Ground and local partner NGOs establish the relationship between women entrepreneurs and the financial institution. But later, once women have successfully paid back their loan, they will work directly with the bank to possibly obtain another loan if needed. We hope the women will use the confidence they gained in the Women's Entrepreneurial Program, plus their enhanced credit record, to obtain the second loan.

We conduct visits with the women after the program ends, and so far we have observed that all the women, including the ones that did not receive funding, are building on the lessons learned in the program. One year after the launch of the program in Dschang, women appear to have a great enthusiasm for it, and other cities have asked for the program to be expanded. In six months we will thoroughly assess this program and study the direct impacts it has had on the community.

By: Paul Zangue, Program Director
Translated from the original French 

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>