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Taking Rotary Assistance to Communities and Children (T.R.A.C.C.)
Category: Microcredit | By Editor, 27-Jun-2011 | Viewed 2774  Comments 0
Microcredit entrepreneur
When Garth Toombs returned from a Discovery Tour in Uganda (2006) he had a list of over 30 humanitarian projects. Projects were assigned to, picked up by or shared amongst Rotary clubs throughout District 5360 (Southern Alberta, Canada). Garth's club, the Rotary Club of Calgary, decided to focus on helping the adults and children impacted by HIV/AIDS in Southwestern Uganda. Under the omnibus title of T.R.A.C.C. programs including microcredit have emerged. T.R.A.C.C. is supported  by the Rotary Club of Calgary, the Rotary Foundation, he Canadian Rotary Collaboration for International Development, several other Alberta Rotary Clubs, many individual donors plus the Rotary Clubs of Kalisizo, Kyotera and Masaka in southern Uganda.  The program also supports 540 AIDS orphans to continue to live in their family home.


When people are diagnosed with HIV/AIDS they often lose hope, seeing it as a death sentence.  Fortunately it need not be; anti-retroviral drugs can greatly prolong the life of the afflicted.  But, they are often excluded from opportunities and benefits available to others because of discrimination resulting from the type of illness. 

This micro-credit program directly targets at assisting people infected or affected by HIV/AIDS.  It also includes people willing to be tested for AIDS, even if they test negative.  All those who participate as loan recipients are part of a local micro-credit group, often formed for this purpose.  There are 28 such groups These groups establish an Executive and make decisions as to whether the individuals in their group are worthy of loans, because if the loan is not repaid, the group is expected to assume responsibility.  There is no other security or collateral expected of the participants except that they must regularly go for medical checkups, and those with AIDS must be on ARVs.  Of course, they are expected to repay their loan in a timely fashion.

The program has been very successful.  There are over 450 adults who have been provided with loans and some of these with second and third loans.  They seek loans for a vast array of entrepreneurial ventures including farming, small business, crafts, basic construction and reselling.  The program started in 2007 and its objective is to eventually be self-sustaining from the interest on loans.  The interest charged on loans is 12% per annum which is about 1/2 the local bank rate.

Unlike other Micro-credit programs, which mostly target women, the beneficiaries of this project are about  2/3 women.

Rotarians directly assist the micro-credit office and individual recipients.  A paid staff of 5 carry out the project day-to-day, visiting recipients and carrying out training programs.

As a side benefit, many of the now healthy micro-credit recipients also look after orphans.  At last count over 1000 orphans were being cared for by micro-credit recipients.


Here are a few of the outcomes we are currently seeing with the program beneficiaries.
v   Elimination of illiteracy —.  Micro-credit recipients become literate in the area of financial record-keeping.
v   life skills acquired — socializing, communicating, dealing with losses.
v  living a structured life- helps to overcome depression and anxiety and is achieved by the discipline and routine required to carry on with a small business day after day.
v farming/agricultural skills —.  For adults in the micro-credit program who have loans for seeds or fertilizer, they take a greater pride in their property and realize more fully its potential to help them sustain their lives, and increase their income as they sell their produce or farm animals.
v  understand the reasons for good health —  Micro-credit recipients now get their advice from health professionals, and as a condition of continuing to receive loans must follow a regime of healthy living including, where indicated, taking ARV drugs.
v  business and entrepreneurship savvy and skill -  in order to improve their standard of living, micro-credit recipients learn that they need a satisfactory return on their investment which allows them to live better, save and see a longer, better life. A program of saving is compulsory as is insurance which pays the loan should a recipient die.

For more information contact Garth Toombs (garthtoombs@shaw.ca).
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