We arrived at Bomalang’ombe at about 1 PM. Peter had called to tell them when we would get there. However, the drive was so short that people were still gathering as we arrived.
Bomalang’ombe is a fairly new SACCOS, having started very recently. It is also where Itiweni, our MFI manager, and Venance Msigala, our agronomist, come from. This group has already formed an AMCOS so we can see that they are working hard.
The SACCOS here has 56 members with another 20 hoping to join after they sell their crops (so they can pay the entrance fees). All of the SACCOS members are also members of the AMCOS, which isn’t always the case. In their first year of operation the SACCOS took out a loan from the Iringa Hope Joint SACCOS, and, along with their own capital, were able to lend $4,000 to 22 of their members. They have all paid in full and on time.
This year they hope to increase their loan from IHJS by $4,000 so they can increase their loans to their members. They also told us they could use $15,000 more, if they were to give all their members the loans they would like, but they have chosen to start slowly and work their way up to taking out larger loans.
As our meeting got underway, the chairman introduced some visitors. The village executives attended our meeting to thank us for coming to their village. They asked us if they could invite other members of the village to come to future meetings for the lessons. We said yes, thinking that this may be a good way to recruit.
When it was time for us to extend greetings to the group, Tom asked how many were related to Itweni – all except one of the hands went up. He then asked how many were related to Venance. All but two of the hands went up. Turning to Venance we asked how it felt to give a class to his relatives. He shook his head and said, “We will see.”
Sandy and I left the meeting to do our interviews. Our first interview was with Simon Petro. Simon is 72 and a retired pastor. He told us that retired or not he will be a pastor until he dies. Simon is married and has 4 children and 8 grandchildren. He has been a member here since the SACCOS started last year. Petro borrowed $150 to farm his ¾ acre of potatoes. After paying his expenses and repaying his loan he had earned a $425 profit – the largest he had ever earned!
He took his profit and bought another ¾ acre of land. He also increased his savings and improved his field. He told us that his earning were much higher since he joined the SACCOS.
This year Petro hopes to take out a larger loan. He wants to plant his 1.5 acres in potatoes. He hopes to be able to earn enough to fix his house.
Next Sandy spoke with Eunice Kikoti, a 45 year old widow with 5 daughters and 2 grandchildren all of whom live with her. When the SACCOS formed here she was one of the first to join. Last year she took out a $100 loan so she could rent ½ acre of land and plant potatoes. Right now she is just beginning to harvest her potatoes. She thinks she will get 15 bags from her ½ acre. The price of potatoes is currently low, but is rising. Assuming it goes back to $25/bag she will earn a $250 profit from her crop.
Eunice is planning on keeping enough of her crop to feed her family this year. She grew some maize along with her potatoes for use by the family. She wants to use her profit to expand her field to 1.5 acres and plant more potatoes.
When Venance’s class ended he told us it had gone well, but it was a bit difficult giving a class to his relatives.
We had lunch at the Pastor’s house and then headed back. It took us a little over 2 hours to cover the 56 miles back to town. When we got home we were too tired for supper. So Tom wrote his reports, Sandy checked them over, then we posted them and collapsed!
Tomorrow is the Iringa Hope Joint SACCOS meeting.