SALT Microfinance Solutions
Helping people help themselves
CAM's SALT (Shared Accountability Lending & Teaching) Microfinance program is designed to help people in developing countries who struggle with chronic poverty. The program provides Bible-based business training, small loans, savings-led programs, and mentoring. Our goal is to walk alongside clients, helping them use the resources God has placed in their care and teaching them the importance of following Jesus in everyday life.
One of the biggest challenges we face today is knowing how to help the poor without creating dependency. Our goal is to focus on and maximize the resources God has given these people. Rather than look at what they lack, we begin with their assets. What abilities do they have? What local resources could they use more effectively? Many people in developing countries long for opportunity, and we can assist them by putting their God-given abilities and resources to work.
Our goal through the SALT Microfinance program is to help needy families develop small enterprises and become productive. As their businesses become profitable, they are able to afford regular meals, improve their housing, and provide a good education for their children. As these micro-businesses expand, the effects spread beyond the families into the local economy. Clients learn to be givers and contributors in their communities and churches.
In addition to business teaching, clients also receive spiritual teaching. In the countries where we work, many people claim to be Christians, but at times there is little difference between their lives and the lives of unbelievers. The spiritual lessons we teach target this deficiency. We have developed several manuals of Biblical lessons that specifically address basic Scriptural doctrines that need strengthening. The lessons are discussed at weekly accountability meetings, and each client receives a manual to take along home.
While we custom tailor aspects of the SALT program to fit the culture and circumstances of each country where we work, the program has basic underlying principles:
- The primary purpose is to help men and women find salvation through Jesus Christ.
- Our focus is solely on chronic poverty. We provide opportunity and not gifts or emergency aid.
- All parts of the program focus heavily on teaching—both business and spiritual. We believe this component is essential to long-term sustainability.
- We understand that change in chronic poverty takes time, and that it is more important to change the mindset than just to change the symptoms. Because of this, we commit to walking with individuals as they learn to earn and manage a sustainable income.
- We believe that close accountability is essential. This is a focus in each part of the program.
To accomplish our goals, we use three different models. Following is a brief description of each:
This part of the SALT program provides microloans that help individuals create or expand very small businesses. Clients are placed in small groups where they learn to work as a team. Individuals within these groups are mutually responsible for loan repayment, and if all are faithful with payments and meeting attendance, they receive larger loans to grow their businesses.
Before receiving loans, clients must make out a business plan. After the loan is issued, they are required to save small amounts of money on a regular basis. The goal is for them to save enough to eventually graduate from the program, using the savings they have accumulated to advance their businesses further. Our clients have responded very well to this program, and the loan repayment rate for the past three years is 97.5 percent.
Another model in the SALT program that has proved very effective is the savings groups. Clients meet frequently, and each individual contributes a small amount of money. As the group’s savings accumulates, clients can borrow from this fund to start or expand businesses or to help meet each other’s needs when survival is difficult.
In the savings groups, all of the money comes from the clients themselves. Savings groups can be powerful tools to teach individuals in developing countries how to better utilize the resources God has placed into their care. Many poor people believe they can never succeed by themselves, and this program teaches them that they are capable of providing for their families without ongoing foreign aid.
The third model in the SALT program focuses on agriculture. Many poor communities need better ways to utilize their land. The Agri-Plus program gives teaching on farming techniques, helps farmers find better markets, and provides funding to help farmers purchase equipment or fertilizer. By making better use of the agricultural resources around them, needy people are able to provide for their families. This program also allows parents to work alongside their children and help them learn the blessing of a good work ethic.
More information on the SALT Microfinance Solutions program
|Click here for more information regarding the
SALT Microfinance Solutions teaching material (pdf)
|Click here for the SALT Microfinance Solutions information brochure (pdf)|
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