Rural economic development is no easy task. A lack of training, infrastructure, access to capital and markets are all barriers to business growth for rural entrepreneurs. The Project Community Prosper Bank (PCP) was created out of this specific need to provide services to the small - but thriving - Aoral province where most households survive off micro-enterprise activity. Through PCP, community members can receive micro loans to help grow their businesses. In addition, a percentage of interest earned on loans is donated back to rural schools to facilitate community development through a social enterprise model. In 2016, 20% of interest generated was donated to local schools.
In 2016, PCP provided loans to 171 customers. As PCP has grown over the years, SSI began taking a deeper look at how this program was making a difference in the Aoral community. In June 2016, an impact study was conducted by PCP Adviser, Jeanne Crump. Through the study, a sample of PCP customers were interviewed to collect both demographic household information and to gauge the impact the loans were having on their businesses. We found some very positive insights. Most notably, 100% of respondents who used the loan for business purposes reported that they felt their businesses had grown since receiving a loan. Because it is often difficult to measure business growth through annual profits in the informal sector, we used several proxy indicators to gauge this impact. Business growth was reported through an increase in household income, the ability to purchase more inventory, or through an increase of direct sales. Some customers even reported growth in more than one area.
Additional notable insights include:
During this study, the globally-recognized Progress Out of Poverty Index (PPI) was also implemented. The PPI is a standardized country-specific tool that aims to measure changes in poverty levels over time. A sample of households were surveyed using the PPI, and this same group will be surveyed again in 2017, after which the first results will be available. Our goal for PCP is to alleviate poverty in Aoral and foster sustainable development through community-led programs.
As PCP grows, we have several initiatives in mind to make this program even more impactful, such as developing a community savings group, providing financial literacy education, and offering an agricultural loan product to encourage the diversification of crops among farmers. PCP is an excellent example of the types of socially minded projects we hope to see our Leadership Academy students develop as they contribute back to their communities. We look forward to sharing more insights and impacts with our supporters in the coming year.
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