Community Development Foundation, Nigeria

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I doubt weather the neat little village of Okposi with its small, mostly unpainted houses and their chipped walls would have had quite the effect it had on me were it not for the neat little hedges of plants that adorned virtually every house, lending a certain charm to the other wise typical village structures. Enshrouded in green - trees, scrubs, plants, tell tale signs of its riverine location, its peaceful ambience was enchanting. Young men unhurriedly rode past us on their bicycles, apparently the most popular mode of transportation in the village. Little children ran and played in the sand, half nude.

On spotting the car, a tall young man approached us. Introducing himself as a member of the cooperative, he informed us that the President, whom he automatically assumed we were there to see, was out on his farm but would soon be back. It was with his help that we eventually tracked down Ernest Ake, Public Relations Officer cum spokesman of the cooperative - Igburu Farmers Multipurpose Cooperative Society - who shed light on the impact of The Community Development Foundation (CDF) intervention on the group.

Igburu Farmers Multipurpose Cooperative Society was formed in 1980 with forty (40) members of mixed gender from 12 villages in Igburu, Rivers State. The society however went through a traumatic phase in its developmental process (caused by the inability of the society to generate funds), which saw members pulling out, leaving only six (6) people in the society. With the help of Nigeria Agip Oil Companys Green River Project (GRP), the group was rejuvenated between 1988 and 1990 and membership strength was built to 31.

Cassava farming being one of the major activities in the group, the benefits of owning their own cassava processing mill soon dawned on them. They approached the GRP who promised to provide the milling equipment if they would put up a building to house it. Embarking on this greatly tasked their resources and depleted their loanable funds. (The group put its entire income of about a N100,000.00, generated from savings, shares and interest on loans (and more) into the building of the structure that would house their mill. Every other fund was tied up as loans.)

For a group that is almost entirely dependent on internally generated funds, this was indeed a serious situation. How they would tide over till the maturity of their investment was a problem with deep implications particularly for individuals who looked to the group for the financing of their ventures. One can imagine the fear and apprehension that would have troubled the minds of such individuals as they thought of the implications feeding, school fees, family commitments, which one would suffer? This was where they were when the GRP introduced the group to CDF.

CDFs first intervention came in form of a N200,000.00 on-lending revolving loan to cushion the effect of their investment on their loan portfolio. From this, the group generated an income of N139,000.00 - more than twice its savings of N54,000.00 invested in the building project.

During this period also, it completed and commissioned its processing mill and embarked on a soap making venture with working capital sourced from the CDF facility. CDF also trained officers of the group in administrative and record keeping procedures.

Soon after, their milling equipment began to give them problems. With the second loan of N500,000.00 received from CDF, they repaired the equipment and gave out what was left as revolving loans.

Cumulatively, the group has received a total loan value of N1.7M from which members and non members have benefited (Group interest on loans are lent to non members at higher interest rates, based on collateral) and institutional capacity building grants of N300,000.00. They in turn have built their savings to N300,943.00 and have a current loan portfolio of N1,583, 000.00, N583,000 of which was generated internally. The group now has its own furnished office and is making plans to employ a secretary.

The President of the group, Mr. Benson Obi plants cassava and yam on his seven farms. Before CDF intervention, he had a working capital of about N40,000, savings of about N20,000.00 and the building where he still lives with his family of a wife and nine children. At the point of CDF intervention, this one building had an incomplete roof and was not plastered. It was difficult to cloth and feed his large family. Four of his children had to stay back from school because he could not afford to send them all to school. To say that the money from CDF was a welcome development is thus an understatement. For him, it was a lifeline.

With his first loan of 25,000.00, he invested in his farm and made a profit of N50,000.00 after repaying the loan. With this, he completed his roof, plastered his house and put up a new structure with six rooms, a sitting room and a dinning room, which he let out to tenants. To date, he has realized N96,000.00 from this house.

He also invested his second loan of 30,000 into his farm. In spite of floods that affected his harvest, he again made a profit of N50,000.00 after he repaid his loan. With this, he put up another structure, this time, with three rooms.

With his current loan (the third) of N50,000.00, he has opened an all purpose store in his village. He is now seen as a big (rich) man in his village. People approach him for personal loans.

The spokesman of the group (who himself has over time, acquired seven motorcycles and two cars with which he runs a transport business and who is now back in school furthering his education, courtesy of the CDF funds) collaborated his story.

He added with feeling, If you want twenty of these success stories, we can give you, even more. They (CDF) have bettered our lives individually and as a group, CDF has broadened our outlook. We never thought we would ever be in the position to be writing cheques like we do today.

In the true spirit of give and take, the society has given back a lot to their community. Asides the extension of credit to non-members, the group provides improved varieties of crops, agrochemicals and mechanical agricultural implements, all at subsidized prices to them.

They have also organized seminars and work shops for other cooperatives in the community, introducing some of them to CDF. They also repair public infrastructure (e.g. water pumps) free of charge and donate towards community efforts like the building of the community civic center.

Not surprisingly, perception of the group has since changed. While they used to be just another group in their community, they are now seen as the ultimate group. The group has in fact had to gradually raise its entrance fee from N500.00 to N5000.00 (plus 2 crates of soft drinks and 2 packets of cabin biscuit) in an effort to put in some control. The applications however continue to pile. Mr. Ake humorously revealed that it was in the past that they had cases of people resigning from the society. Nowadays, he said, if you so much as threaten anyone with dismissal from the group, he or she would go prostrate, begging for mercy. The group plans to take on six new members this year (2002).

CDF MCP Participants   This is wishing our MCP candidates a prosperous and happy new year 2018.
CDF Nigeria enlisted amongst the Nigeria Network of NGOs    ~ networking for development
Mission Statement   ~ "To be an enabling foundation, supporting institutions that facilitate the socio-economic development and self reliance of the poor in a sustainable manner."
Vision Statement    ~ "“To be a leading development organization for sustainable livelihood"
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CDF Nigeria partners government and private companies on development   
CDF partners LiveWIRE for Young Business Leaders Award   
Community Development Foundation Nigeria Enlisted amongst the West African Management Development Institutes Network (WAMDEVIN) Member Institutions