Why Grants and Not Loans?
The Rural Entrepreneur Access Project is an innovative approach to fighting poverty and helping pastoral communities adapt to climate change in the arid lands of Africa. As a grants-based micro-enterprise development program, we help groups of three women start a sustainable business. Our approach is different from traditional micro-lending programs in five important ways:
We provide grants
- Instead of establishing an expensive and complicated loan program, we invest in training and mentoring support systems that will help the businesses succeed. Grants are an inexpensive way to help small enterprises acquire the start-up capital they need, while avoiding the risks that can accompany microloans.
We provide local mentors
- One of our founding principles is that locals must lead our programs. BOMA trains and supports Village Mentors—community leaders and role models who mentor the REAP businesses in their community for two years and savings groups for one year.
We provide business skills training programs
- BOMA Village Mentors deliver a diverse set of training programs to REAP participants, including marketing, record-keeping, group dynamics and savings. REAP is intended for the poorest of the poor—typically women with little or no education or previous business experience.
We include local accountability
- REAP participants are accountable to each other and to the local Village Mentor—not to a distant aid organization or financial institution—for the success of their business.
We measure our impact
- BOMA Village Mentors collect baseline data on each participant, including nutrition, household assets, education and medical expenses. We compare that standard of living data at three months, one year and three years to measure change. The Mentors also collect data on each business and provide regular progress reports.