Country: Burkina Faso
Program: Small Enterprise Development
Job Title: Small Business Advisor
I am working with a Burkinabe governmental program called FAIJ, housed under the Ministry of Youth and Employment. FAIJ is a micro-lending program designed to encourage Burkinabe youth to start or enhance businesses, with the objective of reducing poverty and unemployment/underemployment. Currently, five Peace Corps Volunteers are working with the program on a regional level.
Our objective is to act as general business consultants with the borrowers in our respective regions and to assist the program more generally to improve the program’s capabilities and efficiency. Each borrower has received a loan of up to 2,000 US dollars with an interest rate of just 2-4 percent (2% for handicapped, 3.5% for women, and 4% for men). Before obtaining a loan, a borrower must take a week-long training class and submit a business plan to request a specific dollar amount for the loan. The borrower also must participate in training and coaching offered and have the endorsement of a mentor or a sponsor. FAIJ then evaluates each business plan and then decides whether to fund the businesses or not, and if so, at what funding level.
Once the borrower obtains the loan, FAIJ monitors the monthly activity of the entrepreneur until the loan has been fully repaid. Most loans have a three year repayment period.