Community Development Foundation, Nigeria

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As the name depicts, Abakaliki United Self Help Organization (AUSHO) is located in the small, dusty easy-going town of Abakaliki, capital of Ebonyi State. Though formerly established in 1992 by founder, late Mrs. C. O. Morah, the group was not in active function until 1995 when it was regrouped courtesy of the intervention and influence of Bishop B.C.B. Onyeibon, Bishop of Abakaliki Diocese whose endorsement of the group lent credence to it. (The lapse in time came up as a result of skepticism on the part of members who were reluctant to entrust what little money they had into hands of the organization.)

So it was that AUSHO finally took off with 8 groups representing 40 individuals (traders, butchers, rice millers etc) and savings amounting to N41,940.00. They had no office, no real administrative structure and rudimentary record keeping practices.

Not being able to meet the demand for loans, the organization encouraged member groups to start credit and loan schemes and use what little revenue they generated from the scheme for group projects which would in turn serve as additional sources of income. Secretary of the organization, V. C. Okoye, said that they continued praying meanwhile that manna would fall from heaven to enable them fulfill their objectives.

Manna came in January 1997 in form of CDF intervention. The group came in contact with them through NUSHO, another self help organization based in Nssuka.

With the first loan of N200,000.00 received from CDF, the apex body started its credit and loans scheme. With the N50,000.00 grant that came with it, they rented office space and furnished it. They also employed the services of a full time staff to keep the books and perform other administrative functions.

(The value of this institutionalization became evident when the founder passed on. Problems arising from the deceased family misperception of the organization as her personal business would have threatened continuity had it not been for the steps taken to institutionalize the organization. CDFs insistence that others run the organization along with her also ensured continuity and made the transition of leadership after her demise easier.)

From then on, the group has moved from strength to strength. They are currently on their fourth cycle loan of N2M. Cumulatively, they have received a total loan value of N3.7M and institutional capacity building grant of N810,000.00.

1. Today, (January 2002), the group currently has a loan portfolio of N3.3M (NI.3M of which was generated internally) and savings of about N500,000.00. This is an impressive evidence of the financial impact that CDF has had on the group. Little wonder that membership strength has gone up to 24 groups representing 120 individuals.

Apart from the financial benefits, the group has greatly benefited from CDF training programs. Administrative functions, particularly record keeping, are carried out with greater ease. They now have a simple record keeping system that has enhanced information accessibility. Members have also benefited from various workshops organized with the CDF grant funds.

The organization, once viewed with skepticism and mistrust, is today seen as a serious and progressive one. A lot of people now aspire to join the group. Membership is however not as open as it used to be since they have to be careful about who comes on board they certainly do not desire to take on potential defaulters.

Anuka is one of the eight groups the organization started with. Though the group had interest in the snailery business (for which they had actually been trained), rice milling and animal rearing, they did not have enough funds to actualize their plans.

In an effort to build up tangible funds, the group consistently put aside savings from 1993 to 1996 by which time they had N20,000.00. They set aside N3000.00 as loan fund and invested the rest in what appeared at the time to be a viable venture. Unfortunately, due to fluctuating market conditions at the time, the venture brought in very little N150.00.

At this time, Mrs. Monica Chinwuko, a member of the group was at her wits end. She had hoped to supplement her meager income (N1000.00 - N1500.00 per month realized from the sale of drinks) with whatever profit she could get from the groups effort. With her husband seriously hampered by hypertension, she was virtually the breadwinner in the home. In desperation, she took up farming to supplement the family income. Things were rough. There was nobody to borrow from. It was a great burden on me. I felt bad, frustrated, she narrated. Things got so bad that her health began to deteriorate. Her blood pressure went up.

It was thus with relief and renewed hope that she received her share (N5000.00) of the N25,000.00 that the group got from CDFs first loan to AUSHO. With it, she went into the poultry business.

With the second loan of N8000.00, she expanded her wares to include provisions. Sales doubled along with profit. From then on, whatever money she got, she continued to invest into her business.

2. Today, her businesses brings in about N60,000.00 per annum. She has built up her savings to about N30,000.00.

Now she says, The burden is lighter to bear. I can now help my extended family. My High Blood Pressure problem has become a thing of the past. I can now afford to buy a good material for myself and even my husband. Things are better. I now pay tithe and meet up with other church commitments. She humorously added Now, when I go home (her village), I am better received and when I come back, I am better welcomed (by co-traders etc) they know that those who greet me now do not leave empty handed!

The group has not done badly either. The progress of the other four members of the group is just as evident as Monica. Thanks to the CDF funds, the group had been able to build up its savings to about N150,000.00.

CDF MCP Participants   This is wishing our MCP candidates a prosperous and happy new year 2018.
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