BUCHANAN, Grand Bassa – A local micro-credit NGO that provides loans to private schools, clinics, and market women has launched a program in Buchanan to expand its services to Grand Bassa.
The Foundation for Women Liberia is partnering with another non-profit organization based in the United States, Edify. Under the agreement, Edify will provide all the funding as a loan to Foundation for Women Liberia, which will then disburse it to privately owned schools as loans.
The foundation’s chief operating officer, David Beyan, told The Bush Chicken that his organization has existed since 2006. However, they partnered with Edify in 2013.
“Both organizations reached a partnership agreement to provide loans to private schools with a goal to assist postwar Liberia’s rebuilding program,” Beyan said.
Since 2013, a total of 367 loans have been disbursed to private schools hosting 119,199 students, with 98 schools receiving multiple loans based on their strength of payment. Schools receiving the loans are required to be dedicated to serving impoverished students, in addition to having a Christian-based curriculum, Beyan said.
He told The Bush Chicken that several schools in Montserrado had already taken the loan to recondition their buildings and do other work such as adding new classrooms, replacing damaged parts of their structures. Other schools have used the loans to purchase equipment, such as classrooms furniture or laboratory equipment.
Beyan said the initiative allows affordable private schools to increase access to education for the poor and strengthen schools. He said by having this initiative, both NGOs were uplifting disenfranchised Liberians out of poverty.
“The foundation has taken its loan program to 14 of the 15 counties, 300 communities, providing microloans to more than 35,000 borrowers to enable them to engage in marketing. Today, many of these borrowers give credit to the Foundation for keeping their kids in school, providing their family with daily meals, or [keeping] their businesses prospering,” he added.
Beyan said the Foundation has provided L$152,872,260 (over US$1 million) as of October 2018 as capital to borrowers at the bottom of the economic ladder over the years.
“We are only providing loans to private schools and not government schools because government schools are run by [the] government and we noticed that government has ways to rebuild its schools and not providing enough money to private schools and private schools don’t easily get loans from banks,” he added.
He said they can provide loans as high as L$1,000,000 (US$6,329) to schools based on their ability to repay the loan. The financial strength of the school is usually determined by the enrollment of the school and the total income from other sources.
“We have given loans to more than 250 schools in Montserrado,” Beyan said. “Most of them are responding very well, but in any case, there are always bad apples. They delay in the payment, which we don’t like, but eventually, they do pay.”
He said his team recently conducted a survey in Buchanan and based on the survey, they are ready to provide loan to more schools in the county. The foundation provides loans at the interest rate of 18 percent. The repayment period of the loan is 14 months, including a two-month grade period.
The official launch of the program in Grand Bassa was attended by school administrators from various private schools in Buchanan.
Speaking to The Bush Chicken after the meeting, the president of the Principals Association of Grand Bassa, Theophilus Frankyu, said he was impressed with the idea of providing loans to private schools.
“As we look around, many of our private schools are in misshaped building, and the facilities are not correct and such group coming up to give loan to the private schools, I think that will be another boost for our county to see improvement in the private sector,” he said, adding that 85 percent of students in the county attend private schools.
“So, if the private schools are improved, definitely, we will have [a] good educational system in our county.”
He called on private school administrators to utilize the opportunity to improve their various schools by equipping their libraries and classrooms.
Featured photo by Onesimus Garway