Expansion plans as we move into 2020

As the SUNNA microfinance program continues to be a great success we are looking for ways to expand the program. We are proud to be moving closer to the 1000 loans milestone while still maintaining 100% repayments. On our 3 years journey to get to this point we have accumulated wealths of experience on running the program successfully.

Therefore we see opportunities to increase the fund size further. As part of these expansion plans we conducted a workshop last week with a group of new team leaders. By expanding the group of team leaders (who act as local connectors to our target group) we are able to:

A) increase our reach to deserving borrowers in new parts of Tamil Nadu in an effective way

B) maintain good risk distribution so that each team builder is newer responsible for too large share of the total portfolio

C) engage with and empower an inspiring group of community servants that are already making great impact in their environment

We are looking forward to more wins ahead!

Workshop participants

Workshop in action

Micro finance in emergency relief situations

Extreme weather events seem to be becoming more frequent than before. In November 2018 one such event occured in South India as Cyclone Gaja hit parts of Tamil Nadu. The state government has estimated that the cyclone uprooted over 170,000 trees, damaged about 117,000 houses and claimed 45 lives. The international community responded with immediate disaster relief, but the impact from such events can be long-lived in particular for the poorest of the poor. 

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Thousands of houses were ruined by the Gaja Cyclone

Natural disasters typically impact poor households financially both through reduced income generation ability and increased expenditures:* Reduced ability to earn income. This happens both because demand for some products and services can go down, but also because in some cases the income generating assets have been destroyed (e.g. crops, livestock, tools-of-trade or other equipment). Even if replacement of these asset is available, the household might not have funds to purchase it.* Increased expenditure. Prices of (e.g. food or fuel) might have increased dramatically due to high demand and/or short supply. Investment in rebuilding houses and recovering basic household items could also increase. Health crises or epidemics are common features of post-disaster environments and may result in increased expenditure for health care and medicine.

Now 6 months after the Gaja Cyclone hit many families in Tamil Nadu are still struggling financially while a lot of the immediate disaster relief work has come to an end. 

To help some of those effected regain financial independence the Sunna Microfinance fund in May 2019 funded several micro loans which were distributed in the affected areas by Doss, a local team builder. The loans were used to purchase goats and rather than having a monthly repayment the borrowers will repay by handing over a small goat in 10 months time. This way those effected will have time to breed more goats and start generating income in a more sustainable way. We will follow the developments closely in the hope that we can continue to use the Sunna micro loans to help in the wake of disaster relief in the region.

Here are three of the borrowers receiving their checks.

Fundraising dinner in Reykjavik

We had the honor to present the sunna project to a full house of dinner guests at Friends of India in Iceland last weekend – the crowd of 40-50 people were super impressed by the work being done on the ground in India and during the dinner we collected donations that will go towards increasing the fund size! Thank you dear Friends of India 🙏

Workshop and year-end celebration!

On 16 December 2018 we conducted a team leader workshop with all the team leaders in Ramanathapuram. The objective of the workshop was to go through the progress to date, reflect, celebrate milestones and plan for the future.

48361486_10161212436370035_2391682053792858112_oHip hip hurray! What a great group!
48367566_10161212437280035_7377606341000429568_oWe handed out 15 certificates of achievement

Some of the key take-aways:

“These loans have a truly positive spin and allow the borrowers grow with dignity

“The best thing about the loans are the BIG SMILES on the borrowers face each time we meet

“What makes the program unique is that the interest rate is the lowest available and the process is very easy and simple

“Most microlending projects are only open to women – the Sunna program does not discriminate based on gender even if 90% of the loans are in fact to females”

“We can offer an affordable life insurance as part of the program – in case of death of borrower we will waive the remaining repayments”