Representatives from the Ministry of Rural Development, Samaritan's Purse, Caritas Australia, Life with Dignity, Church World Service spent two days on April 28-29 visited Saving for Change Groups in Kampong Speu and Kampot province under operation of Oxfam partners, Padek and Save Cambodia's Wildlife to learn about the free subsidy model of savings-led microfinance groups as part of the components to discuss in the coming national forum on May 6th to find way to support the group more effectively and sustainably.
A free subsidy model that Oxfam and 25 partners have been initiated in the past 10 year refers to a community saving group created without financial supports. The group selects its members, establish internal rules and regulations itself. It provides small scale loan to group members whose needs are assessed and approved within the group.
The program began in 2005 and currently operates in Mali, Senegal, Cambodia, El Salvador, andGuatemala. It serves the poor in particular thoseliving in the remote rural areaswho have been left behind by formal financial institutions.
"The good thing I noticed within this group is that it helps during small and short term difficulties. If we borrow the money from microfinance institutions, it takes longer time and requires more documents," said H.E. Hap Omaly, Undersecretary of State of the Ministry of Rural Development.
After observing the group collecting the saving money per their weekly regular basis, he continued listening to the group members discussion on other issues including the difficulties in raising chicken and growing vegetable in the current context of climate change– water shortage amid drought. H.E. Hap Omaly applauded the group in using this platform to keep each other up-to-date, share the problem and solution.
This group is one of 8,868 groups, a total of 140,476 people, Oxfam and partnershave initiated.The model has been until now scaled up to 21 provinces in Cambodia.
Based on H.E. Hap Omaly, the ministry is planning to establish saving group countrywide. He and his team have been visited several groups to see which model were working well and what else they can do to support the group more sustainably.
After the visit, the team had done a reflection on the impact of the group, the gap, the key learning and the recommendation to improve the group.
One of the concern as well as strategy of Ministry of Rural Development is to find way to support the group sustainably once I/NGOs project phased out.
The visit and the feedback during the reflection will be put during the discussion in the national forum in May.