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Hi Phakamani Friends,

I hope this finds you in good health. We have had a (positively) busy start to the year, and it is hard to believe that we are already into the second quarter of the year!

Early March saw a visit from a team from the US.  The large group (36) were a delight and we enjoyed two days visiting clients at their businesses and attending centre meetings.  It is so uplifting to witness Phakamani through “new” eyes and to see the interactions between groups of people that would normally never meet.  Despite significantly different backgrounds and circumstances, there is a tangible human bond between good people, and it was evident that all parties were better off for having met.  We remain hugely grateful for the amazing work Rhoda Olsen does selflessly for Phakamani Foundation!

The following week allowed some time out with the Phakamani Board to review performance and workshop strategies for change, or not, going forward. Our current board members live in Australia, South Africa, the UK, and Canada, so getting everyone together for a couple of days of concentrated focus on our clients, the organisation, and our strategic partners was some feat.  I am deeply grateful to the closely aligned and committed board members that serve Phakamani so well!  We pray that the time spent together, and the sacrifices made to achieve this, will bear fruit well into our future.

We started with a visit to our Letsitele branch to engage with Phakamani clients and community members.  We were again impressed at the ingenuity and resilience of the women we serve, and the impact that a microenterprise can have on their lives and the lives of their dependents. One of the ladies we met is running two businesses and employs six people!  She has purchased a large piece of land and has ambitions of starting her own hardware store.

We have noted positive trends in some of our key indicators over the past year, which in turn indicates that conditions are improving for our clients and their customers, including:

  • The number of active groups has shown year-on-year growth for the past 4 months
  • Our client retention rate is the highest it has been in the past two years, exceeding 80%
  • New client applications grew over the past 12-months
  • The 12-month average repayment rate is higher than the previous two years

While we are encouraged by the positive trends in Phakamani, and the sector in general, our productivity levels remain below the levels required to improve operational self-sufficiency results.  We pray that the measures taken over the past 12-months achieve the anticipated results.  We have reduced headcount through natural attrition and now need higher levels of new client acquisition and growth in average client loan sizes based on new and growing microbusinesses.  These will improve productivity in Phakamani and, more importantly, align with our mission to empower poor individuals to succeed at micro-enterprise by providing training, suitable micro-finance products, and ongoing support that will help them thrive.

We have again experienced extraordinary generosity from donors in the United States, Canada, Australia, and South Africa, and the Phakamani Trust remains a material and stable provider of distributions to the Foundation.  We are truly grateful for the faithful and ongoing support from our friends and partners, and ultimately to God for His faithful provision.

God bless,

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