Named as “Tinh Thuong Fund”, Tinh Thuong Microfinance One member Limited Liability Institution (TYM), belonging to the Vietnam Women’s Union, has gone along with poor and disadvantaged women during the past two decades. TYM is engaged to the mission of improving the quality of life for poor women through supporting credit and savings, creating opportunities for women to participate in socio – economic activities and enhancing their positions in the family and society.
On 2-9-1992 there were 20 first members given loans in Minh Phu Commune, Soc Son district. By now, 20 year laters, TYM reached more than 80 thousand members in rural and sub – urban areas of ten northern provinces with nearly 2,400 transaction points. The small loan package mechanism with simple and quick procedure, and gradual repayment, combining integrations activities have benefited TYM in maintaining high repayment rate of 99.9 %, helping 63 % of members out of poverty and improving their economic situation. Currently, the TYM’s outstanding balance of loans is VND 440 billion, including loans prioritized by women for investment in small business and cattle breeding activities.
The General Director of TYM, Mrs. Duong Thi Ngoc Linh shared : “Our view is to provide poor women with “fishing-rod” instead of “fishes”. It is more important to guide and show poor women know how to improve their own livings when loan is given. Poor women in rural and remote areas often find it difficult to access to loan and loan methods. Therefoere, we come directly to the area to help them easily get a loan. Weekly repayment of principal and interest can help members accumulate and save from small amounts as VND 500/day or VND 1,000/day. “Many a little makes a mickle”. Thanks to that, members can save money to buy books for their children, and repay their loan amount at VND 5-7 million/year. Even some could repay some tens of million per year .
Mrs. Duong Thi Thanh, at center 2, Minh Phu Commune, Soc Son branch No. 1 (Hanoi) said that:
My family was considered as the poorest in the village, with five small children and no cattle. A house of three rooms was built with honeycomb bricks. It is hot in the summer and leaking in the rainy seasons. Besides several plots of fields, my husband and I have just been loyal to collect firewood in the jungle for selling to gain more money for food all year round. In addition to high- interest loans from private sources, my family could not get a loan from banks due to non – collateral.
During difficult times, in 1992, the Central Committee of the Vietnam Women’s Union established TYM Fund in Soc Son. The Heads of the group and the centers in Minh Phu commune guaranteed me for a loan of VND 200 thousand. My husband and I bought two pigs and young chicken for raising. By the second installment, I borrowed VND 500 thousand. By this time, I did not only invest in livestock but also in opening a small store to repair electronics. Continuously, through dozens of installments, my husband and I are making money for children’s education, buying buffalos for plowing, purchasing assets and rebuilding my house . My children have gradually grown up. I now own thousands of chickens for meat and eggs.
The story of Mrs. Duong Thi Thanh showed that TYM does not only support loan but also helps poor women have habits of saving of small amounts, expenditure planning, and building assets for themselves. Thanks to that, TYM has additional capital sources to access more poor women. Until now, the total savings from more than 80 thousand TYM’s members and clients has reached up to approximately VND 200 billion, taking 44 % of the total outstanding balance.
We had a chance to meet up with Mrs. Nguyen Thi Loan, the Head of Center No.128, Hung Yen commune (Hung Nguyen, Nghe An), in the competition “Good Members, Good Officers” on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of TYM establishment in Hanoi. She excitedly said: “Since joining TYM, members have opportunity to prove their positions, and become more confident in social activities. Moreover, when owning economic autonomy, our words have gained more value in the family. Our women union has 65 members, 42 of whom participated in Tinh Thuong Fund. Previously, my village was engulfed in bad poverty. The local living was very hard and poor. From ten years ago till now, especially with the operation of TYM in my commune, our living has changed a lot. Thatched houses now have replaced by decent and modern ones. Many women built two or three storey houses, fully equipped with living facilities. Their children have full conditions of learning, growing up”.
Having joined TYM since 2002, every year, Mrs. Loan borrowed two installments with amount of VND 20-30 million for investment in growing 250 lemon trees, and cow breeding. Thanks to her hard-working, and application of science and technology in farming and livestocks, her yearly income (from lemons only) reach nearly VND 100 million. Standing by the booth to display products organized by TYM, holding succulent and aromatic lemons with thick peels, she said: This is our chance to introduce our homeland products. We hope that VWU, and related departments and sectors can help us to trademark our product so that Hung Nguyen lemon can find its place in the market and avoid the current price squeeze.
Since 2007, TYM prioritized access to new areas, particularly expansion of its network to remote areas towards members of ethnic minorities, women with HIV and those affected by HIV so that they have access to financial services to develop economic standard and stabilize life, aiming to reduce discrimination in the community.
For its twenty years of devotion, companionship, and development with poor women, TYM’s contributions were awarded by the Party and State with a First Class Labor Medal. For more deserving this achievement, TYM committed to effective implementation of its principles, objectives and active participation in the poverty alleviation and hunger eradication in the coming time.
Article and photo: THAI SON
(Quoted from People Newspaper on November 21, 2012)