One of the Whole Planet Foundation’s (WPF) newest partners is helping low-income borrowers in two new partner countries that supply Whole Foods Markets with chocolate. Aga Khan Foundation’s partnership with WPF started with a $500,000 interest free loan to Première Agence de Microfinance (PAMF) in Madagascar in 2012 to support its solidarity group loan program. WPF chose to work in Madagascar because they source a locally produced chocolate bar from a company called Madécasse, started by Peace Corps volunteers. Due to the success of the Madagascar loan program, WPF decided to expand its support to PAMF in Ivory Coast (Côte d’Ivoire) in partnership with Aga Khan Foundation U.S.A. WPF has dedicated a $300,000 grant to provide microcredit to low-income clients, both smallholder farmers and micro-entrepreneurs in the country’s northern region, where PAMF has a strong track record and there is a great need for financial services.
The grant in Ivory Coast began in early 2013 and it’s already helping scores of low-income families. In the first quarter of 2013, the grant provided loans totaling $11,000 to borrowers in the region of Landiougou. That goes a long way; the average size of a PAMF loan to a new client is $200. Over half of PAMF’s loans go to women, helping their families get through hard seasons and get a fair price for their crops The first group of clients used these loans to purchase local cashews at low prices, which they will then store and sell when prices rise. Over the next three years, the grant will support PAMF’s group loan program, which expects to add 1,220 new borrowers.
The PAMF story began in 2006, when the Aga Khan Development Network started it in Burkina Faso, Mali, and Madagascar, soon followed by an office in Ivory Coast. PAMF is one of the few microfinance institutions working with farmers in northern Ivory Coast.
These microfinance options have huge value. “It’s important to recognize that the poor—just like you and I – need financial services,” notes Joanna Ledgerwood, former Senior Adviser on Access to Finance for the Aga Khan Development Network. “They help them manage cash flows, build assets, make investments, and ultimately manage risks.”
“Whole Planet Foundation is thrilled to work with PAMF in Côte d’Ivoire because they are providing loans to clients would otherwise not have financial services in such a remote and underserved area,” said Brian Doe, Whole Planet Foundation’s Regional Director for Africa/Middle East.
A sign of how important these loans are to low-income families? Their rate of loan repayment to PAMF is over 95%. Think of that the next time you make a donation to Whole Planet Foundation at the Whole Foods Market checkout.