Not long ago, we received an email from Michel Constantin, our regional director in Beirut, with some exciting news: CNEWA received several awards from the Citigroup Micro-entrepreneurship Awards program.
Implemented in 30 countries including the United States, the program raises awareness about the importance of micro entrepreneurship and microfinance in supporting the financial inclusion and economic empowerment of low-income individuals.
In Lebanon, the program is implemented by the Young Men Christian Association (Y.M.C.A) in coordination with 11 enterprise organizations that participate and nominate to the award their clients who excelled and made a difference in their loans.
In selective countries, an additional award is given for the “Most Innovative Microfinance Institution” that honors a microfinance institution that has created or implemented an innovative product, delivery mechanism or integrated financial education with product offering.
Implemented in Lebanon for the second year, CNEWA was selected for this award from the 11 enterprise organizations.
CNEWA is one of the leading organizations in microfinance with more than $6 million in loans to more than 1,000 recipients through its 14 years of implementation with an overall 99% return on loans; the rate is considered excellent, as micro-credit programs are not usually very successful.
The granted loans are used for a wide range of small projects (grocery store, taxi license, car spare parts, sewing machines, agriculture, small industries etc.). Loans vary between $4,000 and $10,000 and are paid over a period of three years. The interest is fixed at 6% decreasing rate; the program is set to be implemented at the minimum possible operating expenses. And re-payments are made by the beneficiaries on monthly basis to the related banks.
The winners include:
Roger Ziade, a 44-year-old single man who used to work with his brother as a caterer for different kinds of occasions (weddings, funerals, first communion, etc.). Mr. Ziade won the award of excellence in the amount of $2,500 for his creative idea and uncommon job.
Through CNEWA’s two consecutive loans, he purchased and equipped two vans with a mobile kitchen and a mobile toilet. Previously providing delivery in an equipped car, Mr. Ziade now caters for local TV production companies and provides breakfast, lunch and snacks for actors and crew members. His mobile bathroom was considered very innovative and is used by many production companies because so filming takes place in remote or rural areas.
Three years after benefiting from CNEWA’s micro loans, Roger Ziade makes an average monthly income of $1,500. He is currently engaged and hopes to grow more his business to start and raise a family.
Sylvana Akiki is a 53-year-old mother of five. She won an award of $2,000.
When Mrs. Akiki’s husband lost his job as a head waiter in the Gulf, he returned to Lebanon and together they decided to open a small bakery in their village Raachine, Keserouan to support their big family.
Through CNEWA’s loan, she was able to purchase an industrial oven and launch her business. Today, she is growing her business as she introduces the production of small cakes and hamburger bread. She and her husband distribute and sell what they produce to various schools and shops in their region.
From being broken and jobless, Mrs. Akiki and her husband are now financially capable of supporting and raising their five children.
Haidar Hallal is 44 years old, physically handicapped and confined to a wheelchair. Haidar won the first award for the $2,000 for his business selling exotics birds, free-range chickens and eggs.
At the age of 15 and on his way to school, Mr. Hallal was struck by a stray bullet, paralyzing him from the waist down. Haidar never returned to school nor walked again. He is a Shiite Muslim from Najjarieh village, a rural coastal community outside the city of Sidon, about 26 miles South of Beirut. Haidar first began raising and selling exotic birds at the age of 25.Through CNEWA’s loan, Mr. Hallal transformed his passion into a profitable business. He purchased an egg incubator, dairy cows, bees and supplies and now sells cow’s milk and honey to a growing number of individuals and business.
Little by little, he has attracted regular and loyal clients. Today, Mr. Hallal earns 800 per month, enough to support himself, his mother and two unmarried sisters.
Roula Zaarour is 50 years old, married with three daughters. She won the second award for the $1,500 for her garment factory business. Through CNEWA’s loan Mrs. Zaarour rented the factory space across the street from her family’s apartment in Biakout — Mount Lebanon and purchased two sewing machines and supplies. Through contacts with women’s clothing suppliers, Roula started the clothing business as an individual contractor.
As she benefited from another loan, she purchased four more specialized sewing machines and hired employees. Today, the factory produces on average 350 dresses per week with a cost of $1.5 per piece. After covering the operating expenses, which include the rent, electricity and her employees’ salaries, Mrs. Zaarour takes home a net income of $1,200 a month. With this money, she supports her family and pays her children’s tuition at a nearby school, which costs some $ 8,000 a year.
You can learn more about CNEWA’s microcredit program in the article Putting the Future in Their Hands from the September 2011 edition of ONE.