And from cattle epxoretaiton to micro credit opportunities...
A little over a year ago we told you about a novel financing project established for a group referred to as the "productive poor". The group includes small farmers, micro entrepreneurs, and poor sectors of the rural population including women and youths who ordinarily would not have access to financing. The project is financed by the government of Belize with assistance from multi-laterals, but is disbursed through credit unions.
With more than 4 million US dollars to lend, the programme requires a cadre of trained staff to properly oversee and disburse the funds. And so one important component of the initiative is to provide training for field officers, along with the necessary tools and equipment they will need to effectively carry out the program as it expands into new rural areas.
Today, a second Institutional Capacity building agreement with the Credit Union League addressing that aspect of the Financing Program, was signed today, and Executive Director of the League, Corren Robinson told us the importance of this latest agreement.
Coreen Robinson Fuller - Executive Director, Belize Credit Union League
"This program is a program that focuses that on bringing financial services to the productive core in rural areas. And it's being implemented through Credit Unions, and we have micro-finance field officers that provide the necessary services to the target audience. Our first female micro-finance field officer has been hired by the Saint John's Credit Union, so that's one reason that we're here. The other reason is that we're going to provide to St. Johns Credit Union, some of the instruments, vehicle, and equipment to assist the field officer to do her work. And one of the reasons too, that we wanted highlight in today's event, is because we have - for the first time, the program is going to be launched in the Stann Creek District."
Ervin Perez - Program Manager, Belize Rural Finance
"As part of the program, when you talk about this ICB agreement, it's not just written on papers. As you know, the program, which is being funded by the Government of Belize through loans from IFAD and CABE, will provide the Credit Union with a vehicle, and the equipment to support the micro-finance field officer in terms of doing his/her job in the field. So each Credit Union who has been participating in the program has a brand new vehicle, and also all the equipment that they need: GPS, as you will find out. When you go into the rural communities, addresses and streets numbers and names are not there. So, how the field officers identify clients in terms of address is through a GPS number, and that allows us as a program to also monitor the clients by using that same GPS number to track where person lives. So, all that equipment is being provided to the Credit Union. Besides that, you provide training to the micro-finance field officer, and additional support that they need from the Belize Credit Union League."
Five credit unions have already signed unto the program.