ISEE Solutions

Investing in Sustainability, Education and Empowerment Solutions

ISEE Solutions - Investing in Sustainability, Education and Empowerment Solutions

A note regarding finances

Hello to all.

We have received some questions about how the financing works for the Mamas and so I wanted to explain the system to you here. I will leave this post up for a few days and then let it drift off into a less-visible spot as it’s nowhere near as interesting as Andrew’s posts.

When the Mamas first make a contract with us, they are tasked with making a budget for the items they want. They are free to give us whatever figures they want but we have Andrew check the numbers before we give any given budget the go-ahead. We will make adjustments based upon available money, market value, and so forth.

This sum, regardless of amount, is used to purchase the items on their lists and then is simply given to the Mama. It is hers free and clear.

As part of the Mama Nguvu process, though, the candidates agree that they will pay a small monthly sum (around 5000 Ugandan Shillings, or about $2.00Canadian) into a fund which will in turn be used to sponsor a new Mama candidate. This is paid for a total of 12 months, in 12 instalments, for a total of 60,000 UGX — about $25 CAD. We are not strict about collecting this, especially if times are rough, but most of the Mamas consider it a point of honour to pay this money.

Once the Mamas are past that year, they are free to do whatever they like with their items — they can sell them or whatever. Most however choose to use their items to better their lives, and one way they want to do that is by expanding the business that we helped them start. This is where the Mama Boost comes in.

We have a sum of money in our Ugandan account that we have earmarked for people or projects that for one reason or another never happened. Sometimes it’s just that we got a better deal on sewing machines and so saved a few dollars here or there, and sometimes it’s because donors (like you!) have just told us to use their money “wherever you need to”. We take some of that money and put it in the Mama Boost fund. This is a fund that the Mamas can apply to borrow from if they want to expand their business or if they are require some capital.

Ultimately we want these women to succeed and send their kids to school, and the Boost system is a simple way that we can help them do that. Sometimes life just happens and our Mamas have no savings to draw from. It doesn’t make sense for us to have invested in them up to a certain point only to turn our backs on them for want of $50.

Each Mama can apply to take multiple boosts if she wants; the only stipulation is that they must have paid back their previously-agreed-upon amount before they can borrow the money again, and previous receipt of a Boost does not necessarily qualify the Mama for a new Boost. Each case is assessed on its individual merits.

Andrew sits down with each Mama seeking a boost in order to agree upon a realistic percentage for repayment. Our goal is to help the Mamas, not bury them under debt, and so they ultimately tell us how much they can pay back. Sometimes they can only do 30%, and sometimes they can do 70%. We like to see 50% but sometimes it’s just not possible.

We are quite aware of the fact that studies and experience have shown that people are more invested in projects when they have a personal stake in the success thereof, and so we have incorporated this payback percentage as a way to ensure that Mamas do not become dependent upon handouts of cash. It has been our experience that none of the Mamas have taken advantage of the Boost system yet, but people are people and we are aware of the possibility for abuse. We must navigate a tricky path when assessing each Mama’s suitability for a Boost, and Andrew does a good job of gatekeeping the less-viable requests.

We don’t collect interest from these loans or anything; we just basically act as a reservoir so that they can tap into a source of capital if they need or want to. Some Mamas apply for and take multiple boosts, and some take none, but the boost system is there simply for us to help those Mamas in whom we have already invested.

When Andrew mentions in his posts that so-and-so is agreeing to pay back 50%, it is to a Mama Boost that he refers. Our initial Mama Nguvu contract is never paid back. In addition, any specific gifted amounts, or money collected for special projects, are never subject to this repayment scheme.

In addition to the Mama Boost, we have a Mama Emergency fund. This fund was created in direct response to the economic difficulties of the COVID pandemic and is there to help the Mamas with their day-to-day survival. It has been instrumental in helping some Mamas put food in their bellies, for example, in addition to providing life-saving medicines for Francoise. We also used it recently to help Amina get her teeth fixed. This is also not a repaid amount; it’s just to help the Mamas. This fund does not have as strict requirements as the Mama Boost but is also generally for smaller sums.

None of this would be possible without the generous support of donors like you. We are eternally grateful for your donations and always strive to be transparent and sensible in how we use your gifts.

If you are interested in donating directly to the Boost fund, or to the Mama Emergency fund, please just let us know. If you are not comfortable with your donation being used in this way and prefer that we apply your money directly to a project or projects, please let us know that, too; we’re always happy to oblige.

I hope this explanation makes sense. As always, feel free to contact me directly via my email (corey {at} iseesolutions dotcom) if you have questions or concerns.


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