Our work in Uganda
WHAT DO WE DO?
We help thousands of women in Uganda to start or expand small businesses. The women are micro-entrepreneurs: they want to start a two acre farm, open a little shop, invest in fertilizers, buy a cow or a few pigs – over the years we have seen hundreds and hundreds of different business ideas. We help the women by giving them a small loan – a microcredit – which they repay in weekly installments over the course of a year. The women borrow in groups of five, with individual business plans but responsible for each other’s repayments. The women we help are the ‘extreme poor’, typically living on less than $2.50 a day. Still, they know exactly what they want and how to help their family; they just need a little starting capital to do so.
We have now given out over 35,000 loans, at over 95% repayment. SYPO works in remote areas with low population density, where it’s too expensive for other microfinance organizations to provide financial services. SYPO keeps its cost base low with an innovative organization design and use of mobile technology. All operational costs are covered by interest paid on the microcredits, which ensures long term viability of the project.
It also ensures that we can use 100% of your donation to help the women; none is used for costs of the organization. SYPO aims to be innovative, transparent and self-critical. We do frequent impact assessments and actively share findings with other organizations. That way we hope that this project contributes to solving the wider challenge of offering critical financial services to the poor. You can read more about our low cost structure here.
SYPO IN NUMBERS
Disbursed since start
Microcredits since start
WHAT MAKES US DIFFERENT?
These are some principles we stick to:
- Prioritized – helping the extreme poor of rural Uganda, who are truly stuck in a poverty trap.
- Efficient – using 100% of your donation to help the women, and recycling your donation after every microcredit repayment.
- Innovative – developing new organization models and using technology to work where others cannot.
- Non-patronizing – supporting women to develop their own potential with simple financial services, without telling them what to do.
WHY MICROFINANCE WORKS
SYPO gives small loans to poor women in rural areas, for them to start businesses with. They repay in weekly installments, over the course of max a year. Sometimes we get asked why this is a good model to help the poor. If they can repay the loan, why couldn’t they just save money, not have to borrow, and avoid paying the interest we charge to pay for the operational costs? It gets even more confusing, because many – if not most – of the women in our project take out multiple subsequent loans: as soon as they finish repaying the first microcredit, they apply for a new one, typically larger than the last. Read more about it here.
GROWING THE FIELD: HELPING OTHER ORGANIZATIONS
SYPO attempts to actively share findings and experience with other organizations – during conferences, with publications and by sharing tangible documentation that other organizations can use. We also welcome any academic research and are happy to share data to better understand microfinance and optimize its impact.
If your non-profit organization is considering starting a microfinance project, we are happy to share a ‘starter package’ that could help you on your way. This may save you a lot of time and money having to draft all the employee and loan contracts, manuals, budgets, etc. involved.
We’re also happy to set up a few calls to discuss any questions you may have. Our experience is mainly focused on rural Africa, but we have also seen that microfinance can be successful almost anywhere in the world; from refugee camps in South Sudan to small town Mexico and urban Harlem, New York.
To receive our starter package (free of charge, although we always welcome donations!), please contact us and explain your need. If you are a for-profit organization, we will ask a donation of $25,000 for this package.
WHAT’S INCLUDED IN THE STARTER PACKAGE
- Organization Manuals
- Employee contracts
- Client application form
- Client group loan contracts
- Client group resolution form
- Example field office posters
- Team barometer (semi-annual employee survey)
- Progress out of Poverty Index and use
- Example impact study
- Template field office tenancy agreement
- IT system provider summary
- Employee performance review agreement
- Example budget
- Example annual report