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Introducing Graduation Microfinance Model in the Gambia

Sep 3, 2015, 10:03 AM

The National Association of Cooperative Credit Unions of The Gambia (NACCUG) is the apex body of credit unions in The Gambia. NACCUG was established in 1991 to supervise and support the development of credit unions in the country.

The association continues to provide innovative financial services in hard-to-reach areas of The Gambia.In June 2015, NACCUG, with support from Irish League of Credit Union Foundation (ILCUF), began a three year project entitled “Improving Access to Pro-poor Financial Services in The Gambia”.The project is supported by the Irish government through Irish Aid.

One aspect of the project is the use of the Graduation Micro Finance (GMF) model to expand access to financial services. GMF is a method of credit union support for poor people to become members of informal savings and loans groups.The groups save and borrow together and receive support and education from the credit union when they meet weekly. Over time, the group members graduate to become full members of the credit union.

This model brings extremely poor people (mostly women) into a conservative savings orientated system, thereby reducing their longer term exposure to risk.

The Graduation Microfinance participants are usually the poorest of the poor with little or no assets, food insecurity, and low levels of literacy, the project will also deliver financial literacy courses and savings boxes to the rural poor.

The programme targets the poor and organises them into solidarity groups to be able to access credit union services in the form of credit and saving of a small amount.

With this project, the ultra-poor people will be able to access loans in other to venture into small scale businesses and eventually start to make meager savings, then gradually become regular credit union members.