2nd Prize – The Tinh Than Network

Project:  Chi Hai
Organization: The Tinh Than Network
What is this project about?

2nd Prize – The Tinh Than Network received 73 votes during the Event and the grant of VND 100 mln. The Network’s Dream is a world where no woman and her children have to live in poverty! Translated as Ms. Number Two, a popular and friendly title in South Vietnam to address a woman, Chi Hai aimed to provide, in six months, small loans to 100 low-income women (including 81 current and 10 new borrowers), train over 20 of its core female members in family economics, and organize regular group discussions for over 100 women from Binh Thanh District, Go Vap District and District 8, for them to exchange advice on how to proactively generate income for their families and rise above poverty. One of the Network’s objectives is to make sure that the value of the initial capital/loans would be kept intact at the end of the six-month period, so that they can lend out to new groups afterwards and thus keep helping women in the future. On 14 July 2013, LIN staff organized a donor site visit to Chi Hai project.

What has the project achieved?

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After 6 months, Chi Hai has achieved the following outcomes:

  1. Provided microloans to 91 women, including 81 current and 10 new borrowers. The women were divided into 13 community groups, each group led by a Chi Hai, who kept record of the members’ borrowing and collected a weekly payment of 100,000 VND per borrower. The loans were used to:
    1. Run small shops, ie. coffee shops, food stalls, grocery shops, etc.  – 45 people;
    2. Repair or buy motorbikes/bicycles to use as a means of transportation or business – 15 people;
    3. Maintain freelance jobs, ie. manicure, selling lottery ticket, street food, etc. – 14 people;
    4. Pay off pending debts from loan sharks – 3 people.
  2. Provided 2 training sessions to 24 core members. The training explained about Chi Hai project, its loan mechanism, and provided a chance for members to share their experiences in family economics.
  3. Organized 10 community group discussions with 163 participants. The topics included knowledge about health, HIV/AIDS and domestic violence.

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Photo: Chi Hai from one of the women’s community groups is showing LIN Board Member Ms. Bao Ngoc her bookkeeping records 

A few women expressed their wish to increase the amount of loans to 3 million VND. This could be possible, said Ms. Hien. However, they needed to prove their capability of repaying on time. Another change to the project, which was introduced recently, was a fee of 10,000 VND per loan applicable to all the borrowers. “The fee was suggested by the women themselves and was approved by everybody,” said Ms. Dung, the project manager. “This money will be put into a contingency budget of each group and will be used when necessary, for example to assist a member who could not make their payment on time or at all.”

Stories and people behind the project

According to Ms. Dung, two easy-to-notice changes in the beneficiaries were a reduction in borrowing from loan sharks, and an increase in awareness about domestic violence. A change has been observed in the community where the women were living, for example, a drop in parents shouting at their children or spouses fighting over daily life issues.

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During our site visit, the staff of Tinh Than Network took us to the local community on Quang Trung street, Go Vap District. There we met ten women from Kim Dong community group. Some of the women shared their stories of how the loans helped them to improve their lives and business.

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The site visit concluded with the last stop at the house of Ms. Hien’s, the Chi Hai of the Kim Dong community group. Ms. Hien also borrowed from the program, and wanted to show us how she used the loan to equip her tuition class at home, her main source of income.

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1Photo: The women of Kim Dong group listened as Ms. Dung, project manager, explained the site visit.

Truc Nguyen, LIN

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