My husband and I recently accompanied the SALT team to a microloan disbursement meeting in a poor neighborhood of Tipitapa, Nicaragua. This microloan group started when Juan, a man from this area, asked CAM for money for woodworking tools. Our staff told him why we don’t just hand out money and informed him about the SALT program. Inspired, Juan then helped to get a microloan group started.
Prior to the loan disbursement meeting, Juan and twenty-nine of his neighbors convened every other week for two months for an introductory course. They learned about the commitment and criteria involved in getting a SALT microloan.
During the introductory course, Juan became impatient for his loan and almost dropped out. But he decided to stick with it. At the end of two months, only eight individuals out of the original thirty were willing to commit!
The big day
The day of the meeting was a happy day because the loan money was going to be disbursed. But first, the group needed to decide on a fee for tardiness or absence at meetings. The proposed fees ranged from thirty cents to one dollar; one dollar is a very steep fine for such a poor village! They finally decided on thirty cents for tardiness and forty-five cents for absence.
Juan and the other members then received their loans. The members of this group aspire to use their loans for various enterprises: selling hygiene products or buying corn to make tortillas. Juan plans to buy cheese in bulk and resell it. He hopes to save his profits to buy woodworking equipment.
Every other week, this microloan group has an accountability meeting. The SALT team conducts a Bible study and the members make the required payments on their loans. They aim to pay off the loans in six months.
If clients continue for three more six-month loan cycles, they will have studied fifty-two Bible lessons while also learning about finances. After that, they should be able to go forward independently, implementing the practical principles they learned.
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