As you have probably seen or heard, South Africa is going through a very troubled time at the moment. Just recently, two international ratings agencies reduced the status of South Africa’s sovereign debt to junk and many aspects of this country’s future are uncertain. The government is under pressure from the poor to make changes to bring about growth that is true and lasting. Recently our CEO, Mark Tucker, was invited to speak to a high level government panel about poverty alleviation and job creation. Mark explained to the panel that if the South Africa poor are not empowered and taught how to create jobs for themselves, there will be no lasting change to the status quo. He then challenged government to become the lender of first resort to all organisations like Phakamani.
As always, Phakamani remains apolitical and will continue to be a force for positive change in South Africa by working with and supporting those who are at the bottom of the pyramid and who want to build a better future.
Recently a group of supporters and friends from the US traveled to South Africa and brought some joy and excitement our way. They came not only to take in some of the majesty the country holds but to visit with Phakamani staff and clients. One of the travelers, Pat Stevens, said upon returning, “I was so struck by how a small loan, lots of support, determined effort, and loving accountability help the women of Phakamani change their life as well as their family’s. Upon leaving I felt so proud to be a small part of how you are positively impacting lives everyday. Truly a “hand up- not a handout.”
EXCITING UPDATES FROM THE FIELD
- Not only did the US travelers we mentioned above benefit from their visit to our great country – many of our clients were given the opportunity to share their stories with successful business men and women. This brought tremendous pride and encouragement to our clients and validated how meaningful their work and success is.
- Phakamani continues to grow rapidly. In March alone we established three new branches. All the training has been completed and loan officers are walking the streets of another community to find women ready for a change.
- We are pleased to report that the loan funding that we applied for from the Small Enterprise Finance Agency as well as Masisizane has been approved. Thank you to everyone for praying about this – it worked! Additionally we are beginning to work with another potential loan funder in Europe. As far as donation and grant funding is concerned, we so appreciate all of your support! Recent news is that the annual Phakamani US fundraiser earlier this year was a success and the Phakamani Trust is also growing very nicely.
- The new computer system is fully operational and our project manager, Leigh Wiltshire, is busy shaping up plans for our mobile project.