NOW WE SEE HOPE

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The MAPATO project uses a replica of the Grameen Bank model. It uses a system of solidarity group lending, as working through group solidarity was seen as being more suitable in this environment. Borrowers are organized into small solidarity groups of five members each. They elect their own leaders and meet on a weekly basis. The solidarity structure and the joint guarantee mechanism foster a supportive atmosphere of collective self interest. The smaller core groups are affiliated in one larger unit or Centre. Centre leaders or the Chairperson, the Treasurer and the Secretary are elected from among the members of the federation of core groups.

Through this method loans are issued to every person in a core group under a group guarantee system. Contributions to the Loan Insurance Fund and savings are individually kept, but through the groups. This reduces overhead expenses, facilitates participatory management of the program, encourages solidarity among the group members and ensures that repayment risks rest with each individual and the group. It also facilitates mutual assistance and information exchange in other areas among group members.

HIV and AIDS exacerbates households’ vulnerability to poverty. Whether or not families are able to cope with the impact of HIV and AIDS depends a great deal on the state of the households’ economic resources before, during and after the disease affects them. Income-generating activities or micro-enterprises are important means by which households can build and protect such resources. Women are particularly vulnerable as they normally have no access to credit and carry the economic burden of caring for the sick and bringing up their children. As one beneficiary of the program stated “Being HIV positive is a very challenging experience, especially if you are not able to meet your basic needs. You see, I have not needed to come to PASADA for medical care for three months now! I am conducting a business now, as I secured a loan from MAPATO. I now eat what I want and I am able to pay the school fees for my child. You see, what is killing many PLWHA is not AIDS, but thoughts and anxieties generated by life’s uncertainties. Thanks to the MAPATO loan scheme, we have a new life”

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