WINHEEDCAM has issued more than 20,000 loans to help poor families in Cameroon start their own businesses.
Cameroon is a West African nation of 20 million where, according to the World Bank, over 40 percent of the population lives below the national poverty line. Tragically, one in seven Cameroonian children die before age five. Today the plight of the poor in Cameroon is exacerbated by the spread of HIV/AIDS. In the last five years, approximately 1 percent of the population has died of AIDS (around 40,000 deaths per year). These deaths have left hundreds of thousands of orphans who have been forced to face the loss of their parents, the uncertainty of how they will be cared for, and likely poverty.
WINHEEDCAM began work in 1997, co-founded by Dr. Munro Proctor, an American cardiologist who worked in Cameroon for many years, and Dr. Pius Tih, the Cameroonian Director of Health Services at Cameroon Baptist Convention in Bamenda. Through their work providing health care in the area, Munro and Pius saw the need to equip the local population to better support themselves, so launched a microenterprise development program. Targeting very poor women in the North West Region, the program has provided more than 20,000 micro loans, enabling women to use their skills and energies to establish very small income-generating enterprises.
Since 2009 endPoverty.org has been working in partnership with WINHEEDCAM to continue to strengthen and expand this work that has already helped so many. The goal of the WINHEEDCAM program is to alleviate poverty in the North West Region. That goal is being attained through microenterprise development – serving very poor entrepreneurs by the provision of very small loans together with health, spiritual and general business training. The program uses a group lending methodology, where approved borrowers are organized into groups of 5 to 15, and are eligible for loans starting as small as US$10. All loan groups participate in a three month pre-loan training program and a viability review of business plans by both staff and fellow group members. As loans are repaid, larger loans are available, up to a maximum of US$400.