Khartoum, Sudan (April 17, 2012) — In the past year, participating Gum Arabic Producer Associations have increased their newly-established microcredit funds by 25 percent—from 7,500 Sudanese Pounds (SDG) to 10,000 SDG–through a Near East Foundation (NEF) project to fight poverty in Sudan.
The increase in available microcredit funds directly translates into more money that can be loaned to support a greater number of impoverished rural families.
These gains are being made possible as local gum farmers, who benefitted from microcredit funding, are now able to repay their loans and fees.
Gaining access to credit is a challenge for rural farmers in Sudan’s “Gum Belt,” where poverty rates are between 60 and 95 percent. Gum producers need financial support for harvesting activities and livelihood diversification, including capital to obtain seeds, tools, and basic commodities for their operations.
Microcredit funds established through the NEF project are helping gum producers break free of debt bondage to gum merchants, who have historically provided financing with predatory lending terms. Farmers have been forced to reimburse credit at unfavorable prices and pay disproportionate credit charges over which they have little control.
The growing microcredit funds mark significant progress in creating a sustainable lending mechanism—controlled by local communities—that will provide ongoing support to gum producers into the future.
The Near East Foundation is a U.S.-based international development NGO leading innovative social and economic change in the Middle East and Africa for almost 100 years. Founded in 1915, NEF has helped build more sustainable, prosperous, and inclusive communities through education, governance, and economic development initiatives. NEF field staff – all of them from the countries in which they work – partner with local organizations to implement grassroots solutions and build “knowledge, voice, and enterprise.” To learn more visit www.neareast.org.