Soc Trang ethnic residents improve life with microfinance

July 20, 2018 | 16:14
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Microfinance from Vietnam Bank for Social Policies has transformed the lives of at least 150,000 ethnic households in the Mekong Delta province of Soc Trang.
soc trang ethnic residents improve life with microfinance
Vietnam Bank for Social Policies presented gifts to residents in Soc Trang province

Tai Van commune is an impoverished community in Tran De district, Soc Trang province. The outstanding amount of loans for Soc Trang is VND43 trillion ($1.87 billion) over 12 programmes, and Tai Van commune has received VND27.7 billion ($1.2 million) for 1,329 households since 2010. Over the past eight years, residents of the commune have used the loans to improve their lives, find new jobs, escape poverty, and ensure the social and economic welfare of the entire community.

In particular, the commune has reported several success stories regarding student loans: among others, Thach Thanh Huynh from Chac Tung Hamlet is now a doctor at Soc Trang Hospital, Danh Kim Hai is working at Evergrowth Agricultural Cooperative as an engineer, and Tang Thi Phuong Ha now teaches at the Tai Van 1 Elementary School.

soc trang ethnic residents improve life with microfinance
Duong Quyet Thang, CEO of VBSP, visited families in Soc Trang

Thanks to loans for impoverished families, the Lam Thi Sam Bach household in Chac Tung Hamlet is now raising eight cows, having begun with only one or two.

“The capital has helped people of ethnic minorities familiarise themselves with the lending process. They have also gained confidence with their business or study plans, accessed new methods of manufacturing and business, cemented their dream of a better life, and stayed away from loan sharks,” said Ly Binh Cang, head of the Soc Trang Ethnic Minorities Department.

The good news from communities such as Tai Van commune is indicative of the general positive impact that microfinance has had on ethnic minorities in Soc Trang province.

At present, Vietnam Bank for Social Policies (VBSP) is carrying out 14 microfinance programmes, of which 12 are dedicated to ethnic minorities, following Decision No.54/2012/QD-TTg (previously Decision No.32/2007/QD-TTg) and Decision No.29/2013/QD-TTg (previously Decision No.74/2008/QD-TTg) issued by the prime minister.

soc trang ethnic residents improve life with microfinance
VBSP meets with local authorities in Soc Trang province

Since 2007, revenue from lending stands at VND5.9 trillion ($257 million), with 440,084 households having access to credit. Of these, 150,561 households were ethnic minorities, who altogether took out VND1.79 trillion ($78 million) of loans.

The outstanding loans at June 30 this year stood at VND3.2 trillion ($139 million), six times higher than 2007. The average annual growth rate is 54 per cent, and 156,638 households have active loans.

Of these, 52,648 households are ethnic minorities, with VND1 trillion ($43.6 million) of active loans, or 33.6 per cent of the total figure. On average, each ethnic minority household has VND19 million ($828) of active loans.

Thanks to the capital from the VBSP, ethnic people have found new jobs, boosted earnings, led a stable life, and escaped poverty, helping Soc Trang Province build new agricultural communities. In particular, between 2011 and 2015, the number of poor families dropped from 24.31 per cent to only 8.88 per cent. Between 2016 and 2017, this figure fell from 17.89 per cent to 11.85 per cent.

soc trang ethnic residents improve life with microfinance
Ethnic residents received gifts from VBSP

Of the more than 150,000 ethnic minority households to have gained access to credit, 63,000 have escaped the poverty line. 2,719 people have found new jobs (269 of which allowed people to go overseas to work), more than 4,162 students have been granted scholarships, 14,638 houses have been built for poor people, and 19,664 projects on hygiene and clean water have been carried out.

To achieve these outstanding results, the Soc Trang People’s Committee has instructed the VBSP to assist local authorities to carry out microfinance programmes in the area. The VBSP focuses on raising capital from the national and local budget, prioritising lending to the poorest families and people of ethnic minorities. Some households have joined in 2 or 3 programmes, which together lifted them out of poverty.

However, challenges still remain, according to local staff members of the VBSP and representatives of the local government. According to Duong Quyet Thang, CEO of VBSP, the bank has had to continue its support for households in addition to the capital, which includes encouraging them to set up businesses and later become role models for other households.

“As long as there is one poor family left in the community, we still need to dedicate our efforts to helping them escape poverty,” said Thang.

soc trang ethnic residents improve life with microfinance
VBSP and the Soc Trang People's Committee meets with leaders of Tan Van commune

Huynh Van Sum, Secretary of the Soc Trang Party Committee, said that the province will continue to implement Document 40-CT/TW, which states that the local budget should provide the VBSP with capital for ethnic minorities families.

According to Sum, the local government will continue to collaborate with the VBSP to set up exclusive programmes for ethnic residents, helping them maximise the loans they have received.

soc trang ethnic residents improve life with microfinance
VBSP presents gifts to older residents in Soc Trang
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