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Hi Phakamani Friends,

We hope that you are keeping well and pray that you will be richly blessed in balance of this year!  This time last year we were still talking about COVID… what a blessing that the immediate risk to lives related to the pandemic is largely behind us now.

The socio-economic fallout from the pandemic remains evident in the communities that we serve, exacerbated by high inflation and high unemployment resulting in lower levels of expendable income.  South Africa is also plagued with ongoing power outages from “load shedding”.

Pretty gloomy!  But I am reminded of Paul’s letter to the Romans, chapter 5: “3We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation”.   More and more I believe that a critical component of what Phakamani does is to provide hope… hope for this generation and a springboard for future generations.  This hope does not only refer to our clients, but also to those that work within the organisation.  Further on in his letter to the Romans, Paul speaks of the importance of serving others and putting their needs above our own – the principles on which Phakamani was founded.  I am truly grateful to God that I can be a part of this, and to the many friends and partners who support the vision of Phakamani so generously.

I read an article recently (I don’t recall the source) that mentioned that the key role of leadership in this season is to keep employees motivated, confident, and hopeful.  Please pray for wisdom to get this right, and that it spills over to our clients.

The last quarter of 2022 showed a 23% increase in new groups recruited, trained, and disbursed.  We also experienced an increase in the average loan size disbursed.  Both are positive indicators of the sentiment of our clients and the communities they serve.  We pray that this continues as we focus on new client growth.  The other two key focus areas in operations are improving repayment rates and branch productivity.  We have recently developed some useful tools to graphically show densities of rural women whose demographics specifically match Phakamani’s mission objectives and overlay it with actual loan officer movements.  This will allow us to identify potentially underserved communities in a more objective manner.

This year is our 15 year of operation which we will celebrate at the annual Founders’ Lunch later in the year.  We have two teams visiting us from the USA this year, one last month, and a second arriving later this month.  We also have a visit from our Australian donor this month.

God bless,Eric

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