When you walk into Asbera Mendes' shop along Canchungo's dusty main drag, one thing is clear: this small businessman makes the most of everything – his time, his money, and even his shelf space. The shop – which is only about 10 feet by 10 feet – is packed full of pens, lotions, shampoos, knitting yarn, diapers and flashlights. You can buy almost anything here, even baby oil.
Asbera (pictured left), a serious but mild-mannered 41-year-old, works long hours, pulling in small profit margins so that he can provide for his family. He's been saving up money for five years so that one day he can buy a car and transport products from the capital city to Canchungo – cutting down on costs and increasing his profits.
WAVS wants hard-working people like Asbera succeed. But in Guinea-Bissau, it's difficult to get a loan from a bank. That's where we can help.
In January 2012, in partnership with Seattle-based non-profit Give to Grow, WAVS started ExtraCredit, a new program that gives $500 micro-loans to local entrepreneurs so that they can expand their small businesses, create new jobs, and grow the local economy.
The plan is simple: WAVS issues the loans and the borrowers repay the money on a weekly basis over the course of a year. When the money is repaid, we use it to issue a new loan to help other business owners. Over time, WAVS ExtraCredit promises to create a stronger economy and better future for the people of Guinea-Bissau.
So far, ExtraCredit has been a huge success. Take, for example, Pedro “Cande” Gomes. The shop owner used his loan to relocate his business from a small neighborhood to the town’s main market. And instead of just selling phone credit, Cande (pictured below) is now offering customers everything from bug spray to mayonnaise to soap. Cande and the other borrowers have made their weekly loan payments in full and on-schedule.
This year, WAVS plans to offer at least five such loans to small-business owners in Canchungo to help give them hope for a brighter future. If you would like to partner with WAVS, you can contribute to the WAVS ExtraCredit here (under "Porgram Designation," select "ExtraCredit micro-loan fund"). If you have any questions, you can email us at info (at) WAVSchools.org.