Last month, I was fortunate to be going to Ethiopia. Our aim was to meet the three partners funded by SOS Faim Belgium: SFPI, Hundee and Buusaa Gonofaa: Two microfinance institutions (MFIs) and one NGO. My colleague François, who is in charge of partnerships in Ethiopia, joined us on the journey. During nine days, we travelled across the country with our partners to meet the beneficiaries of these three organizations. Here is a short report of this…
The atmosphere in Addis Ababa is the same as in many capital cities: noisy and polluted. Fortunately, most of the mission takes place in rural areas. What a big contrast once you leave the city! Large stretches of land with a 360 degree view surround us. Whether we go up or down, we often find ourselves on a “plateau” with a breathtaking view. The rainy season comes to an end, and the land is covered with grass. The earth is also very visible because of soil erosion. The earth here is almost red, due to a high iron content.
Here and there we see cattle breeders with their herd. Traditionally, cattle’s breeding is a man’s activity and women get the money from the sale of milk and by-products. These cattle breeders are often very young. Young people quickly acquire the sense of responsibility in Ethiopia We saw five-year old kids at the head of a herd of a dozen animals.
SFPI (Specialized Financial and Promotional Institution): to provide financial services to low-income farmers and small entrepreneurs in rural areas
First destination: Debre Marqos, located north-west of Addis Ababa. In the small village of Tchimit, 25 km away from there, we meet the committee responsible for the village bank.
One member explains: « Before, I had to walk 25km to Debre Marqos to ask for a credit, to refund one or to simply deposit my savings. It took me two days, plus meal and housing costs, and the loss of earnings for the work that could not be done during that time ».
25 km seems insignificant to a motorized European person on macadamized roads. For these communities, lacking transport means, such distance requires one-day walk, i.e. two days for the return trip.
The village bank improves access to financial services, and encourages the members of the village community to save and borrow
money. This is one project among others set up by SFPI, which contributes to improving the living conditions of the population.
Clementine Rasquin, Head of Information & Education