Making a “poverty map”, providing loans to support poor women, guiding them to accumulate small amounts of savings every day… are the silent efforts that Tinh Thuong Microfinance Institution (TYM) under the Vietnam Women’s Union have given over the past time, contributing to positively changing the lives and positions of many women.
Bringing financial services to poor women
When TYM was first established in 1992, it is no coincidence that the first people to join TYM were mostly women from poor families. “The difficulty of binding the wisdom” made these women want to rise to change their living situations, but did not know what to do to earn more income, had no capital and did not dare to borrow capital to do business.
With the starting point being mostly farmers, many women are economically dependent, so when they approach loans introduced by TYM, they don’t even know how to pay the money back. Step by step, step by step, TYM brings the cash flow back to these women, facilitates them to repay loans smoothly by dividing the repayment amount, helps them find a side job to “take short to feed the long” and guides them learn how to use capital to generate income and manage cash flow to ensure timely repayment. TYM’s policy of one loan and gradual repayment helps women confidently borrow a “good enough” loan to feed cows and pigs. While waiting for the time when they can sell their cattles, women can go to the market to sell vegetables, and have an additional source of income to pay TYM’s loans on a weekly basis. At the end of the year, when the loan cycles end, these women have just paid off their debts and when the cows and pigs are sold, the interests are entirely these women’s assets.
Ms. Dinh Thi Hai, Nghi Loc, Nghe An, who has been a member of TYM for 21 years, confided: “At that time, my family was extremely difficult, while the loan sources were not many, the repayment method was not suitable. Fortunately, I was supported by TYM with a financial service that was suitable for my family’s condition. Thanks to that, my children could go to school, grow up and the family has a good economy.”
Like Ms. Hai, many women join TYM because TYM’s financial products are diversely designed to meet women’s borrowing needs and TYM’s special repayment policy. Up to now, TYM has 9 types of loan products, including: Policy loan, near-poor household loan, economic development loan, housing loan, multi-purpose loan, investment loan, disaster risk recovery loan, loan to support members affected by the epidemic, and loan for job creation. Thanks to the flexible repayment method, which is divided into weekly or 4-week installments, members can still make it on a regular basis despite difficult circumstances.
Together with women to change the mind
For its members, TYM is not only a financial fulcrum but also a companion, a spiritual support to help women improve their awareness, roles and status. TYM’s members have grown from struggling and dependent to bold and confident in their ability to master the family economy. Many women are more and more active in earning extra income. In particular, the thinking of accumulation and investment for the future is increasingly focused by women towards sustainable finance. To open up those positive and proactive thoughts for women, TYM has been organizing many community activities for members.
Before being able to access loans, each woman has to undergo 2 weeks of training and pass the final interview round, get a loan only when she understands the regulations on loans, savings and how to manage family finances. As a member of TYM, women are trained during the participation process from the most basic knowledge and skills such as learning to read, learn to write, learn basic financial management, know how to present in front of a crowd, to other courses specialized in health care, husbandry techniques, cultivation, economics.
In the last two years, households, especially women, and female-owned micro-enterprises have faced unprecedented challenges due to the Covid-19 pandemic. To support women to overcome the crisis, TYM focused on raising awareness and digital skills for members, helping them to promptly transform or diversify their business forms, and at the same time, participate more into the digital economy. Through these practical activities, TYM has helped women have the opportunity to learn, accumulate skills and knowledge, and become confident, master their lives and develop their family economy.
Ms. Kim Thi Thanh Nga, Phuc Yen – Vinh Phuc, 7 years of joining TYM, shared: “Through training sessions on business knowledge as well as domestic violence prevention, I saw that women have gained voice in the family. I myself feel more active and confident because of the useful knowledge I have received.”