I feel proud that I can support my family after participating in the self-help group, says Afghan Omid
Omid and his family of seven had a very difficult time living in Rodat district in eastern Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province. The 27-year-old struggled due to insecurities and a lack of employment opportunities.
“I have had so many problems in my life. Unemployment, lack of income, insecurities in my village, as well as lack of access to basic services have made me feel depressed,” says Omid. “I have not been able to afford my children’s basic education expenses and I have not been able to get a loan; even my close relatives have turned their faces,” he adds.
Omid’s story does not end here; he decided to move to Jalalabad city to start a new life. He initially started working in a metal workshop where he was able to earn around AFN 150 a day. With the money he could manage only the most basic needs of his household. In February 2016, he was informed by People in Need’s (PIN) Social Organizer in their Community Development Council (Majbor Abad) about a self-help group he could join to save more and get skills to start a business.
“My participation in a group discussion organized by People in Need staff helped me learn about the project and register myself in the self-help group,” Omid says. After participation in the group, Omid was able to regularly meet with groups members from the community, save regularly and participate in trainings offered by PIN on small business management, Murabeha loan system, or nutrition and hygiene.
349 self-help groups provided over 7,000 revolving loans
After 12 months participating in the self-help groupsh, Omid requested a loan of AFN 10000 (around 125 EUR) from the group to establish an independent metal workshop, for which he had the right skills and experience. The group members approved the loan and he got to work. “The loan from group members has helped me buy needed tools and materials to start the business in my community. I’m now able to earn on average AFN 1500 a week,” he recalls.
Moreover, Omid now has the financial capacity to pay for his children’s education expenses and registered his son and daughter in school. “I feel very happy that I can now afford to pay for my children’s education, this is like a dream come true,” he says.The self-help groups function as knowledge hubs from which members can learn from trainers and from each other how to build small enterprises. As a result of the project, over 7,000 revolving loans were distributed among the members of 349 self-help groups between 2016 and 2017 in Jalalabad and Herat. Over 88% of the issued loans are used for starting or developing businesses. Apart from the improved economic situation, members report broadened social networks, improved community cohesion, and self-reliance.
The self-help group related activities are part of the “East West Livelihood Initiative for Uprooted People” being implemented during a period of 40 months in Jalalabad and in Herat cities located in the east and west of Afghanistan. The project is funded by the European Union and Czech Development Agency.
The goal of the initiative is to contribute to the sustainable economic and social integration of uprooted people and host communities in Afghan urban informal settlements. A complex approach and set of activities is mobilized to achieve this goal, ranging from community based self-help learning and savings groups to literacy and vocational skills trainings and support to obtain civil documentation.