The Spanish Magdala Foundation has launched a five-year project providing micro-loans to impoverished women in northern Senegal.
In Senegal's northern zone, women identified as the poorest of the poor now have the chance to take out small loans, thanks to a project funded by the Spanish Magdala Foundation.
During a five-year period,10,400 women will have access to loans starting at $150 to boost their small-business activities.
Gamou Tall is coordinator of the Magdala Foundation project based in St. Louis, Senegal.
Tall says the project aims to fight extreme poverty and will focus on women. She says the poorest of the poor are usually women who take care of the children and the household. Often, she says, they do this alone.
Tall says many men leave the northern region to look for work in Europe, leaving women to run the house alone.
Fifty women have received their first loans and every week 50 more will have access to a starter loan. If borrowers can make their repayments within the timeframe, they are eligible for larger loans of up to $750.
Tall says most of the women are small traders, selling vegetables, charcoal, tea and sugar in the markets. She says the loan, though small, will allow these women to buy stocks at a cheaper price and to sell more produce.
Tall says the Magdala project is different from other micro-loan projects.
She says there is no guarantee necessary and no individual contribution required from the women. Also, she says, the project identifies women in need and approaches them with the idea of a loan. The women also get training and support in managing their loans.
The women are chosen based on family size, revenue, spending and what type of commercial activity they are involved in.
The project aims to reach 2,000 women every year, and after five years hopes to expand its reach to other areas in Senegal.