Posts

John Coonrod Empowers Poor People
John Coonrod is the Executive Vice President of The Hunger Project — a non-profit organization that helps give poor people the means to lift themselves out of poverty. As part of this organization’s leadership, John Coonrod empowers poor people to lift themselves out of poverty by placing special emphasis on female farmers, who are among the poorest people in the world.

Origins

Coonrod has been advocating for social justice for a very long time. While he was training as a physicist at Stanford and the University of California-Berkeley, he was an active member of local civil rights and anti-war movements. When The Hunger Project was first founded in March of 1977, John Coonrod was its first volunteer and he continued to volunteer while he worked at Princeton University from 1978 to 1984.

In 1985, he became an official member of The Hunger Project’s staff. In addition to meeting his future wife while working at The Hunger Project, Coonrod used — and still uses — his expertise to help poor people in developing countries. To this day, John Coonrod empowers poor people to lift themselves out of poverty.

The Hunger Project

The Hunger Project is a non-profit organization that seeks to end poverty and world hunger by pioneering grassroots movements. While it believes that everyone should be free of poverty and hunger, they place a special focus on women and gender equality. The reason for this is that women are typically in charge of meeting a family’s needs, but are often denied the means and resources to do so by their society.

The Hunger Project currently works with organizations in 11 countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Mozambique, Senegal, Uganda, Bangladesh, India and Mexico. Between these countries, they have helped more than 85 organizations start 2,900 projects. In addition, they have chapters and investors in Australia, the U.S., Canada, Japan, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Peru, Switzerland and the U.K.

In all of the countries where they work, The Hunger Project seeks to empower women, mobilize communities and engage local governments. In India, for example, their main focus is on helping women get elected into local governments. The organization has done this in nearly 2,000 panchayants (clusters of villages) across 6 states, and the women they have helped now lead 9 million people.

In Africa, The Hunger Project helps turn clusters of villages into epicenters where up to 15,000 people can band together to help their communities thrive. These epicenters, in turn, create their own development programs, which reach more than 1.6 million people across the continent. In Bangladesh, local volunteers, especially women and children, are mobilized to reach 185 sustainable development goals in their communities, reaching 5 million people. Finally, in Mexico, community development focuses on indigenous women and children, helping to improve childhood and maternal nutrition; this admirable work reaches 21,000 people.

Partners A-Plenty

The Hunger Project has numerous partners in the countries where they work. One of these partners is Rotary International, a global organization in which 1.2 million people work in sustainable projects to improve life in general across the globe. This includes fighting diseases, providing water, supporting educations, saving mothers and children, growing local economies and promoting peace. The Hunger Project mainly works with Rotary International in Ethiopia, where Rotary International uses vocational training to teach doctors how to resuscitate newborns.

In India, SKL International is a major partner of The Hunger Project. SKL International is a Swedish organization that uses the model of Sweden’s extensive local governments as a baseline to help developing countries achieve democracy. Like The Hunger Project, SKL International’s main goal in India is getting local women elected.

In Mexico, The Hunger Project works with Water For Humans — a non-profit organization that uses sustainable technology to bring clean water to those who need it, especially in Mexico. The organization is currently working on helping indigenous people build eco-cookstoves which require less wood than traditional stoves, need only one fire to work in multiple burners at once, and keeps coffee warm every day — as is culturally preferred.

Local Empowerment

All in all, John Coonrod empowers poor people to lift themselves out of poverty by helping to create and promote local movements, especially women-centric movements, that promote community welfare and engage with local governments. By working with several partners in various countries around the world, John Coonrod and The Hunger Project make lives better for women and other people across the globe.

– Cassie Parvaz
Photo: Flickr

credit access in Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan is setting strong economic precedents for the European and Central Asian region. New supportive legislative policies have increased government spending on education and training programs. Global economists argue this is one of the main reasons Uzbekistan’s GDP has increased by more than eight percent the past three years.

Recent economic success is also attributed to growing economic freedom allowed by a currently changing Soviet-style economy. Uzbekistan has the most diversified economy in Central Asia. This provides an increase in GDP per capita, which has been increasing steadily over the past three years as well. Improvements in GDP per capita are strong indicators of improvement in personal living standards.

At present, the service sector accounts for about 45 percent of GDP. Examples of common Uzbekistan services include car repairs, the medical industry, teaching and the food industry. Not far behind services lies industry and agriculture. Uzbekistan is the world’s fifth-leading cotton exporter and seventh-leading producer.

Economic projections for the private sector show a steady increase over the next few years. Fiscal space in the government budget allows the economy to increase stimulus without increasing public debt. This leaves the public to continue growing in wealth while working simultaneously to steadily boost GDP.

The Banking System

Credit access in Uzbekistan is likely to increase due to recent banking growth. More money circulating through the Uzbekistan economy raises banking lending power. In the past, Uzbekistan banking systems limited access to foreign investments due to governmental regulations. Almost all money contributed had come from the domestic system.

Exclusive banking provided benefits such as domestic accountability. An increase in Uzbekistan credit access relied on loans by the population. Other past pros to this system included resilience to global financial crises. Banks proved most effective in 2014 when domestic capital injections provided immunity from failing global counterparts.

This, however, has changed in 2018. Total banking capital increased 26 percent in 2014, and this year banking directors met to discuss boosting central bank interdependence with foreign allies to target foreseen inflation rates.

Banking directors continue to emphasize the importance of regulation to create and maintain a newly inclusive baking system. The new system would include an interactive global policy regarding foreign loans and cooperation.

Personal Credit Access in Uzbekistan

Smaller banking also influences credit access in Uzbekistan. A closer look reveals smaller economic changes, some of which include assistance from the International Finance Corporation (IFC). The IFC is a member of the World Bank and works to improve business in the private sectors of developing countries.

Private sector investments from the IFC have improved credit access in Uzbekistan in several ways. For example, the financial Markets Infrastructure Program (2009 to present) aims to create and improve credit information sharing. Members of the public can now receive an accurate prediction of loan repayment possibilities.

The current program also educates possible loan participants on formal risk factors associated with taking a loan. The certification for financial institution employees is the most prevalent in this project, as it allows job creation while creating a more knowledgeable private sector.

The Mortgage Market Development Project also instituted public credit access in Uzbekistan by improving mortgage lending procedures in local banks, made possible through set lending practices. Both programs continue today, allowing the general public higher access to jobs, loans and savings options.

Strong Projections

Expansion into the global economic sphere is a huge step for Uzbekistan, as previous years of Soviet-style economics would not have allowed this type of growth. Compared to its European-Asian counterparts, the Uzbekistan economy is at the forefront of balance and diversity.

The shift from exclusive banking to possibly inclusive is a prime example of the forward economic thinking propelling the country forward. Further improvements to liberalize the Uzbekistan economy, establish rule of law, social safety, constructive foreign policy and personal banking are also paving the way for success in the coming years.

– Logan Moore
Photo: Flickr

Rang De Facilitates Peer-to-Peer Microloans in India
According to the World Bank, approximately 20 percent of India’s population is poor. This totals 270 million people. These low-income individuals often lack credit or banking history and are considered too risky to finance by traditional lenders, like banks.

Rang De is a peer-to-peer microlending platform that works to increase low-income Indians’ access to capital. So far, Rang De has disbursed 57,096 microloans in India.

How Rang De Facilitates Peer-to-Peer Microloans in India

Low-income individuals are often unable to access capital from major lenders. Often, this underserved population turns to independent lenders who charge extremely high-interest rates for small loan amounts. Microloans from qualifying lending institutions are an alternative to predatory lenders. Rang De keeps interest rates low, between six and 10 percent.

Loans are financed by social investors, who choose a borrower through the platform and contribute in multiples of Rs.100. So far, 12,443 social investors have helped finance microloans in India.

Interest is used to pay back investors and to fund Rang De’s internal expenses; two percent of interest payments go to each. The rest of the interest payment funds rural partners who conduct literacy training sessions and collect borrower statistics.

Rang De’s Success So Far

Social investors can choose to finance a wide range of borrowers, from entrepreneurs to students to farmers. One example is Pooja Devi, a tailor who secured a loan of RS.10000.

Devi’s husband works at a factory and earns only Rs.7000 per month, too little to pay for their housing. Devi holds a Master of Arts degree but lives in a village with few work opportunities. As a new mother, finding suitable work while looking after her infant has proven impossible.

Devi accessed a Rang De loan to purchase a sewing machine for her at-home tailoring business. Her business is about four months old and she currently earns only Rs.1000 per month but plans to grow her client base. Tailoring at home gives Devi the flexibility needed to look after her infant while providing an additional stream of income for her family.

Ensuring Continued Success for Rang De

Rang De’s cofounder, Smita Ramakrishna, says that Rang De purposely keeps initiatives small so individual lenders receive more assistance. In addition to facilitating microloans in India, Rang De also focuses on increasing the financial literacy of borrowers. “For every sector we work with, we actually design the loan product to make sure that it works for them,” said Ramakrishna.

The majority of Rang De’s microloans in India, 93.25 percent, go to women. To further support this group, Rang De launched a new initiative targeted at women called Swabhimaan. Swabhimaan provides online loan applications and credit scoring. Self-serve kiosks set up around villages serve as portals to the online services. Women will be able to access same-day loans from Rang De with more ease and autonomy thanks to the kiosks.

To tackle skepticism in target borrower communities, Rang De publishes interest rates publicly on its website. The nonprofit also regularly updates social investors and hosts in-person meetings with both investors and borrowers.

Rang De’s hands-on approach and transparent business practices have led to a consistently high loan repayment rate of 93 percent. Ultimately, Rang De’s cofounders believe the innovative initiatives implemented through Rang De will “go a long way in making poverty history in India.”

– Katherine Parks
Photo: Flickr

credit access in Burkina Faso

In Burkina Faso, a landlocked country in West Africa, access to credit is very limited. Around 44 percent of the population lives on less than $1.90 a day, only 15 percent of the population has access to a checking account and a mere seven percent of the population has access to banking services.

But the scarcity of credit access in Burkina Faso is more reflective of the country’s socioeconomic structural barriers rather than a systemic lack of capital. The banking system is regulated by the Centrale des États de l’Afrique de l’Ouest (BCEAO) and is comprised of 12 commercial banks and five specialized credit institutions, and as of June 2011, the majority of these banks met the new capital regional requirement of CFAF five billion.

But credit access is generally concentrated to a few large clients, with collateral requirements and high interest rates of 10-12 percent, preventing the majority of small and medium sized borrowers from participation. Pervasive gender inequality especially exacerbates these high barriers of access for women. Women are typically confined to lower paid informal sector jobs (such as subsistence agriculture) and there is no legislation prohibiting discrimination in access to credit based on gender or marital status.

However, the recent implementation of microcredit initiatives has helped lower these barriers to credit access in Burkina Faso, especially for women in rural areas. One of these programs is part of the Victory Against Malnutrition Project (VIM) that works with 200 villages in the Sanmatenga province and is funded by USAID’s Office of Food for Peace, implemented by ACDI/VOCA, Save the Children and three local NGOs. For example, in 2015 through a partnership with the microfinance institution Caisse Populaire, VIM brought financial agents to the village of Ouintokouliga and offered education and access to financing options.

For village resident Nobila Koroga, access to this additional capital allowed her to buy more animals on her farm which, in turn, generated enough extra produce and additional income to create food security for her household, pay her children’s school fees and cover unexpected issues such as family medical visits. This is especially significant considering that Burkina Faso’s human development index ranking is one of the lowest globally and the country is especially challenged by low levels of education and healthcare.

As Koroga’s experience demonstrates, credit access is a crucial asset in socioeconomic development and empowerment. The government of Burkina Faso has recognized this and is making financial inclusion a priority, as outlined in a recent IMF report.

One of the goals of the government’s four-year National Plan For Economic And Social Development, which went into effect in 2016, is to bring broader banking service utilization rates to 35 percent by 2020. This will begin to be implemented in 2018 through the national inclusion financial strategy, which, alongside further expanding microcredit initiatives, also emphasizes mobile banking and the reduction of administrative barriers.

Additionally, on March 14, the IMF approved a three-year arrangement with Burkina Faso under its extended credit authority, totaling $157.6 million in support of these initiatives. While credit access in Burkina Faso, and banking more broadly, still has a long way to go in terms of inclusion, the success of these international collaborative microfinance initiatives and the country’s broader long-term strategy demonstrate it is embarking on a path toward success.

– Emily Bender

Photo: Flickr

Credit access in BoliviaCredit access is considered a key driver of economic growth and poverty alleviation, capable of granting the poor and small businesses the funding necessary to invest in their future. In the past, credit access in Bolivia has seen an expansion through innovative commercial initiatives and through recently imposed laws, Bolivia’s government has sought to encourage the expansion of credit in the country and to direct it toward productive and socially useful sectors.

In one respect, the story of credit access in Bolivia has been particularly influential: commercial microfinance. When BancoSol, originally a charity sponsored by Acción Internacional, transformed itself into a microfinance commercial bank in 1992, it became the first chartered microfinance bank in the world.

The transition showed the country that microfinance could function without the largesse of nongovernmental organizations and within a commercial environment. Significantly, by proving this model was feasible, it provided a meaningful lesson for international observers.

Since then, the country has continued to burnish its legacy of credit initiatives in microfinance and beyond. It has consistently ranked highly in the annual Global Microscope, a report prepared by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) that assesses the regulatory environment for financial inclusion in 55 countries.

In 2016, Bolivia ranked thirteenth of 55 and sixth of the 21 Latin American and Caribbean countries included, and in its 2015 report, the EIU highlighted the country’s Financial Services Law (FSL) as a key in moving toward greater financial inclusion. Whether the FSL, enacted in 2013, will achieve all its goals is yet to be determined, but evidence to date suggests the government’s initiatives have had their intended effect.

The law, among other objectives, mandates credit quotas and interest rate caps to encourage lending to designated productive sectors and social housing. This requires banks and other financial institutions to extend a minimum share of their credit toward these objectives at an affordable rate. A 2015 report by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) found that the requirements were spurring progress: total credit reached almost 46 percent of GDP in 2015 from 35 percent in the mid-2000s, and credit directed to the productive sectors and social housing increased 26 percent in the year leading to June 2015.

In combination with elements of the law improving deposit insurance and consumer protection measures, the FSL has laid the groundwork for furthering the expansion of credit access in Bolivia. As the IMF report emphasizes, the Bolivian financial system is fundamentally sound, but the methods employed to increase credit access do not come without risks.

In attempting to lower borrowing costs, interest rate caps can ultimately limit access to credit and hurt bank profitability, while credit quotas can lead to banks’ portfolios becoming over-concentrated and designated borrowers becoming over-indebted, as credit is extended disproportionately to certain sectors. The report stresses that managing these risks will be vital for the country to ensure its expansion of credit is healthy and sustainable.

Overall, from BancoSol’s breakthrough in the 1990s to modern regulatory initiatives, credit access in Bolivia has continued to expand. Given the capability of financial inclusion to economically empower the poor, it is likely to remain an important goal in the country for the foreseeable future.

– Mark Fitzpatrick

Photo: Flickr

Credit Access in UgandaThe ability to access credit in various countries is not often a topic of discussion. This issue usually tends to fall by the wayside when discussing various problems of countries around the world, despite the issue being of great importance when it comes to both the financial literacy and economic growth of a country.

In Uganda, credit access is not a pressing issue. The country is among the top six nations in Africa in regards to accessing credit. Credit access in Uganda is very important to sustaining economic growth and helping to alleviate poverty in the country. The increase in financial services for poorer communities can have a huge impact on eliminating poverty in those areas, which will improve the economy of the whole country and help improve financial literacy among the citizens.

Uganda has 24 banks, four credit institutions, a Social Security Fund, 60 private retirement benefit schemes and seven mobile money providers throughout the country. The abundance of credit access in Uganda has helped improve the economic status of the country as a whole, especially for those in impoverished neighborhoods. Financial services are immensely important when trying to improve the economy of a country, and that is what is happening in Uganda. The accessibility of financial services to poor citizens allow them to save money and help both them and the country grow economically.

The security of financial institutions allows the impoverished citizens of the country to feel safe entrusting their money to a bank and allows them to save more money than they would without a financial institution so easily accessible to them. This allows both citizens and businesses to balance their income and manage any financial shocks they may experience in the future.

Uganda is slowly but surely improving economically. The country saw a GDP growth of 4.8 percent in 2016, which is an improvement for the country as a whole. Although not as high as some neighboring countries, it is still progress for Uganda, and hopefully, it will continue to grow.

Currently, the most popular form of credit access in Uganda is mobile banking, with more than seven million users. This is because of the increased popularity and use of technology in the country. More than half of Ugandans now have access to a financial institution. This is a vast increase from 28 percent in 2009. This shows that both financial literacy and economic stability are increasing in Uganda.

As the economy grows, so does the financial literacy of the country. The accessibility of financial institutions makes it easier for citizens to become more financially literate and manage their money better than they have previously. This will continue to benefit both the citizens and the country in the long run, as Uganda become more economically stable because of the number of easily accessible financial institutions that are now operating in the country.

– Simone Williams

Photo: Flickr

Credit Access in LiberiaLiberia is a predominantly rural nation. Because of this, the financial literacy of its citizens and the country’s financial institutions are often put on the backburner. This has resulted in credit access in Liberia lagging behind when compared to other countries.

In the country of Liberia, there has not been an effective credit rating system, and many businesses lack the records needed for credit approval. In response to this, the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) has established a credit reference system that contains credit history and derogatory information about certain creditors. The CBL focuses on delivering financial services to the communities in the country without any services available to them. These services allow these sections of the country to become integrated into the formal economy.

These services include increasing access to medium-term financing, creating an environment for private-sector job creation and improving and empowering the Liberian-owned business segment of the economy. This will help improve credit access in Liberia and allow more citizens and businesses to have up-to-date financial records. It will also improve the legitimacy of those businesses and their credit records.

The CBL has also begun to issue treasury bills in an effort to develop a capital market. This has allowed the country to expand its foreign market, which helps improve the economy of the country as a whole. With the help of the CBL, the financial system in Liberia is steadily improving. This is happening despite the Ebola crisis and external shocks from the fall in international commodities. Liberia is slowly becoming more financially stable, which is helping both citizens and businesses.

Throughout the country, there has been significant progress in strengthening the banking sector. This has included the adoption of a national corporate governance framework and increasing the regulatory capital adequacy ratio and the minimum capital requirements. These changes to Liberia’s banking system have helped improve the effectiveness of financial institutions throughout the country.

The CBL has recently implemented regulations for all licensed insurance companies operating in Liberia. The regulation sets the capital requirement for each class of insurance business. It also requires each company to maintain a minimum amount of capital. This has been implemented in the hopes of strengthening the insurance sector. These regulations have had a positive effect on credit access in Liberia. They help improve the economy of the country and strengthen its finances.

Despite a significant portion of the population still residing in rural areas, the financial institutions throughout the country are helping businesses become more credible and allowing them to maintain their financial records through banks. As a whole, Liberia has greatly improved its banking sector, and is well on its way to being a significant part of the formal economy.

– Simone Williams

Photo: Flickr

solidarity lendingFor too long, the plight of the urban poor had monopolized the concerns of those working to eradicate abject poverty. The millions of people in rural poverty have been forced to toil in silence, overshadowed by their urban counterparts and underrepresented by the advocates of economic development. Most are relegated to subsistence agriculture, making the best of what little they have. However, a renewed emphasis on the rural poor has facilitated new and innovative techniques to help, among them solidarity lending.

One such pioneer is SHARE Micro Finance Limited, which offers loans to rural women in India in an attempt to fund entrepreneurship among the rural poor. Recently, a number of studies have been conducted to assess the effectiveness of such programs, with some encouraging results. An article from the Stanford Graduate School of Business tells the story of Vinod Khosla, a venture capitalist from India. Khosla described solidarity lending as a “virtuous pyramid scheme” where groups of women are given modest loans from SHARE. This program differs from individual loans because “the group members are under strong social pressure not to default…and if one person does, the others have to make up for it”.

The program empowers women to invest the money in a stall at the local market or use it to invest in equipment which enables them to produce or transport their items more efficiently. To some, this may seem like only a marginal benefit, but Khosla reports that among nearly 200,000 clients, 77 percent saw reduced poverty.

To test the feasibility of such programs further, a study on solidarity lending was conducted in Mongolia, which compared the results to those of regular lending practices. Research showed that while repayment rates were similar, food consumption increased among group lenders, an encouraging sign to researchers.

Another study on group lending conducted by the African Growth Institute in Kenya revealed that “microcredit is an important entrepreneurial tool in alleviating poverty”. They also found that group lending was a way of achieving greater financial stability.

Because of innovative initiatives like solidarity lending, the rural poor are better equipped to prosper. By providing groups with much-needed access to financial capital, farmers from India to Mongolia to Kenya are no longer overlooked.

– Brendan Wade

Photo: Flickr

Credit Access in LaosFor many years, the government of Laos has been working to improve the country’s financial infrastructure and in turn its economic abilities. In more recent years, the focus on financial improvement has been through credit access for small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Improving access is an ongoing mission with a variety of different aspects that need to be addressed.

SMEs are vital to Laos’ economy and people, employing a large percentage of the country’s working population. Yet, a lack of credit access in Laos for these SMEs, with only about 12 percent being able to receive formal credit, leaves many businesses unable to grow and compete with other enterprises in Asia.

In 2014, the World Bank Group funded $20 million towards the growth and expansion of SMEs in Laos. This growth was accomplished with the use of long-term credit access. These funds, which were provided to commercial banks, made it easier for SMEs to access loans by reducing collateral and creating less of a risk for the banks themselves, which made them more willing to provide these funds. Although this project did allow many SMEs to upgrade their infrastructure and expand operations, it still was not enough to solve all the issues related to credit access in Laos, and many businesses continued to suffer.

As of 2017, Laos has been working to reform its credit system in order to improve access to funding for SMEs. The first step of reform is working to create a standardized credit reporting system. Although this is not a direct solution for credit access, it is a move towards it. Credit reporting is a way in which banks and lenders are able to maintain and access credit histories for companies wishing to receive funding.

This makes it easier to assess risk and in turn, allows more SMEs to receive loans and reduces costs and collateral when doing so. The creation of a credit reporting system requires both funding and planning, which Laos has looked outside the country for. Japan, Canada and Switzerland have all aided with funding and planning as part of a larger International Finance Corporation project to improve the economic infrastructure and financial access of Laos.

Credit access in Laos is improving with government reforms and projects that make the financial systems and economic infrastructure of the country more hospitable for SMEs. However, this process takes a lot of time, planning, and funding, which Laos is unable to provide on its own. With further increase of foreign support, Laos will continue moving towards improving credit access in the country. This will help improve the country’s economy as well as provide many jobs for its people. As Laos’ economic abilities increase, it will not only better provide for itself, but become a more valuable asset to the global economy and the many countries invested in its financial future.

– Keegan Struble

Photo: Flickr

Credit Access in GhanaLocated on the western coast of Africa, Ghana is a country of lowland hills, secluded beaches and historical colonial buildings. Named Africa’s most peaceful country by the Global Peace Index, Ghana is considered a leading African nation due to its status as the first country south of the Sahara to break free from colonial rule.

While Ghana has already taken major steps towards improving the country’s stability and proficiency, such as improving water sanitation and education, it still has a long way to go in terms of building up its economic stability to mirror those of other nations. One key method to improve the country’s economy is through strengthening farmers’ access to technology and making loans more accessible to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which are both happening through improving credit access in Ghana.

Strengthening credit access in Ghana would help alleviate poverty on a large scale, and this would be mostly due to how it would help farmers and business owners. In Ghana, agricultural production encompasses 23 percent of the country’s GDP, while SMEs make up approximately 50 percent, and having credit access is a vital component of making these industries run efficiently and smoothly.

In the agricultural industry, technology is an essential component of the Ghanaian culture and economy, and unfortunately, many farmers lack access to technologies that have the ability to make the agricultural system productive. In order for farmers to have access to such resources, they need to have access to credit.

In recent years, research has shown that improving credit access in Ghana will boost the country’s adoption of more productive technologies, which will lead to a rise in the country’s overall GDP. A study was done by Swiss Management Center that also found the combination of high cost of credit and unavailability of credit are Ghana’s main constraints on the Ghanaian economy.

Lack of credit access in Ghana is a major barrier to technology adoption, and in order for Ghana to reach a stable economy that incorporates food security and safety, Ghana must find a way to overcome this. In a policy brief conducted by the Global Hunger and Food Security Initiative at UC Davis, researchers identified two main concerns of credit access in Ghana:

  1. Index-insured loans are not as reliable as payouts and may not cover losses.
  2. While credit loans increase credit supply, these types of loans have an extremely low demand.

In this survey mentioned above, 73 percent of the sample borrowed money in 2014, while only 54 percent demonstrated a willingness to pay market value for their insured loans. This problem of insurance is quite profound in Ghana, as lower-income and lower-educated farmers are more inclined to take out uninsured loans to cover technologies and farming supplies, while banks would prefer insured loans in order to protect their portfolios and reduce the number of borrowers.

Likewise, banks do offer loans that are specifically made to meet the needs of small businesses. However, banks are often hesitant to lend to the SME sector, and this is largely due to credit history. Banks that lend to small businesses are only willing to do so at extremely high-interest rates, something that many companies are not willing to accept.

However, despite the conflicts of interest and benefits that are occurring within the credit access debate, Ghanaian policymakers are currently creating a plan that details a comprehensive strategy to improve credit access in Ghana, and the hope is that it will focus on improving the structure and stability of the country’s smaller businesses.

Both the Ghanaian agricultural and commercial industries have long ways to go until they are on a path of improvement rather than standstill, but Ghanaian lawmakers are determined to find a way to improve the country’s future credit availability.

– Alexandra Dennis

Photo: Flickr