We were also there to begin other initiatives, for example our micro-loan program for womens entrepreneurial activity was initiated on this trip during the May/June 2008 period. Roadside commerce is alive and well in Benin with an overwhelming portion of the population earning a living for their families by selling their wares carried above their head.
By giving women with children small manageable loans without interest, we are able to help a family become self-sustainable. These loans are used to purchase inventories for entrepreneurial activities which can have a strong impact on the individual recipient, as well as her family.
If a woman can afford to purchase inventory, and resells it to then create a business practice, then there is more hope for herself and her immediate family to become positive members of society. Self-sufficient woman can afford to pay schooling costs for young children, and a huge burden is then lifted off the child who can focus on their on educational advancement.
Woman who qualify for this loan will be given approximately $15USD converted into their local currency and are expected to pay back an agreed portion every week based on the profit margins of their endeavors. Currently there are 56 women who have benefited from this program, and extensions will be added as funding allows later this year.
There were also some unplanned events which helped our foundation receive a better understanding of the situation on the ground of Benin.
Notably, we were able to finance medication for an eight year old young boy awaiting an appendectomy who’s family was heartbroken and struggling to manage to pay for his potentially fatal condition.
Situations like this one are far too common; An ill child does not receive routine medical examinations until there is a severe issue regarding their health.
However, due to the fact that the child was not diagnosed early enough, he underwent severe pain and inflammation of the appendix, which was caught in barely enough time to save his life.
Luckily, this particular issue was brought to our attention just short of too late for us to act quickly by paying for the medication which is mandatory for his preparation before surgery.