The main purpose of the Bakwé microfinance revolving fund is to add the explicit dimension of economic well-being of the Bakwé people to the ongoing Bible translation and literacy ministry.
Increased economic security beyond mere subsistence level living in most any setting begets a higher propensity to focus on things other than just immediate needs.
In April 2007 Kjell Christophersen and Csaba Leidenfrost took a trip out to the Bakwé area and conducted a 4-day long seminar on how to determine the economic and financial feasibility of small projects.
Christophersen’s background for this type of work is extensive as he has worked on diverse economic development projects in Francophone Africa for some 26 years, including 3 years long term in Côte d’Ivoire, 2 years in Burkina Faso, and 1 year in Senegal.
In the seminar, attended by 3 project staff and 7 literacy teachers from nearby villages, several small scale project ideas were suggested by the participants as being of strong interest to the Bakwé. These included: 1) raising traditional chickens; 2) raising improved chickens for meat and egg production; 3) rubber tree plantations; 4) rubber tree nurseries; 5) rental of chairs and tents for special events. The objective was to determine their economic feasibility. To this end, all the costs and benefits for the mini-projects were specified in detail, including repayment of any loans and the provision for covering all recurring costs over time.
In November 2007 Csaba Leidenfrost and CTAB held a public ceremony, attended by various local authorities, where they handed out the first three loans. You can see photos of this ceremony here.
In June 2008 Csaba Leidenfrost and Benjamin Nieuwsma made a trip out to the Bakwé and Benjamin taught a follow-up seminar. The first part of this seminar was review of the principles taught by Dr. Christophersen a year ago. The second component was bookkeeping, which included practice in calculating profit-loss and amortization of equipment.
Dr. Kjell Christophersen returned in September 2009 and led another follow-up seminar. This seminar included an evaluation of what went wrong with the first three microentreperners’ small projects. Dr. Christophersen also reviewed the process of determining the financial feasibility of a business using two new projects being proposed by four women as examples for the exercise.
The objective of the training is to equip microentrepreneurs with the ability to both determine the economic feasibility of an activity, and to manage it well.