Monday, December 26, 2011

Kiva Welcomes Finance (SS) Ltd!

Written by Mac Parish, Field Support Specialist, Anglophone Africa

Please join me in welcoming Kiva's newest partner, Finance (SS) Ltd!

Finance (SS) Ltd. operates out of Juba, South Sudan, and is currently playing an important role in extending credit to a market where the UN estimates that less than 2% of the population has access to formal financial services. FSL is currently the second-largest MFI in the country, and in their words, their mission is “to contribute to the economic rebuilding and stabilization of South Sudan by providing quality financial services to low income entrepreneurs through a sustainable microfinance institution with a national scope.” The organization currently provides group loans and salary loans, and they are in the process of developing additional targeted loan products.

As the newest country in the world, lots of people have their eyes on South Sudan in recent months. Thirty years of war have left the country with some of the highest illiteracy rates and infant mortality rates in the world. The majority of the roads in Juba were built after 2008, and some of the city still looks like the countryside. Much of what people consume in-country is imported from Uganda, which makes the cost of living extremely high.

The first microfinance institutions began operations in South Sudan in 2003, and the industry has historically struggled with high delinquency rates and high costs. However, the potential for impact is huge.

During my time in Juba, I was fortunate to meet with a variety of borrowers, one of whom was named Jacob. An older man, Jacob has run a general store for the past 10 years. He enthusiastically described to me the impact that Finance (SS) Ltd. loans have had on his business and his livelihood.
Jacob in his shop outside of Juba, South Sudan

He used his most recent loan to purchase water and sodas to sell out of his freezer, which he had purchased with a previous loan from Finance (SS) Ltd. Excited about the potential that microfinance presents to expand his business, he told me that he is thankful for Finance (SS) Ltd's support, and that he plans on using the increased income generated by his business to send his children to more school.

South Sudan's unstable history makes it difficult for microfinance institutions to secure funding a reasonable cost. As such, Kiva loans will provide FSL with the liquidity it needs to extend loans to its clients. Also, Kiva's risk-tolerant capital will help mitigate some of the potential pitfalls of working in a post-conflict country.

Finance (SS) Ltd. has seen rapid growth over the last two years. Their portfolio at risk (PAR) has reduced drastically, as their outreach has increased. After spending a week with the management team, I would attribute much of these changes to the excellent staff that FSL has on the ground.

Kiva is very happy to be extending our reach in South Sudan, and to be providing our lenders with the opportunity to make even more of an impact on the lives of the residents of the newest country in the world.

To lend lend to Finance (SS) Ltd. clients, please click here!