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Updated On: Sunday, 19 August 2018
Development Issues

Expanding Microfinancing in Sudan

Content by: South-South News

5 February 2018, New York, USA | South-South News — Twenty years of isolation have had a devastating effect on Sudan, with the rural poor the hardest hit. In October last year, the United States lifted various sanctions - including restrictions on international banking transactions – that have raised hopes for the expansion of a micro-finance scheme already helping 30,000 rural women access funds to build their businesses.

Called ABSUMI, the scheme was set up seven years ago by the Agricultural Bank of Sudan with support from the Central Bank of Sudan and the UN International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). It was a radical step as banks rarely venture into rural areas and few rural people have bank accounts.

Atika Amin, a local Community Development & Gender Officer, said, “ABSUMI focuses on women because it is much harder for women to access finance than it is for men. Also, women are good at repaying loans on time and they reinvest the money they make for the good of the family.

Village Savings and Credit Groups are a cornerstone of the ABSUMI scheme. There are now more than 2,000 in Sudan. Group members can apply for loans of between $150 and 1,200. If anyone defaults on a repayment, other group members must repay for them - or lose access to future loans. So far, almost 100% have been repaid.

Six years ago, Buthaina Ahmed Ibrahim had no earnings and no collateral to get a bank loan to start a business. She has now taken out six ABSUMI loans in as many years.

Today she is a successful sesame farmer with her production and income increasing every year, enabling her to extend her house and pay for her children’s school fees. “I now know how to save money and use the money. I participate in decision-making and I now have confidence in myself,” she said.

The lifting of the embargo on Sudan has boosted hopes for the scheme’s future. Mohammed Youssif El Nour, ABSUMI’s Principal Coordinator, said, “Definitely, the lifting of US sanctions on Sudan will help the banks to get more capital and to get more money and this in turn will increase the ceiling of microfinance and this will enable more women to be provided with financial services in Sudan.”

By 2025, the aim is for ABSUMI loans to reach a million rural women and their families - giving hundreds of thousands more women like Buthaina opportunities they would never have had before.

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