Windhoek-First Lady Monica Geingos’ One Economy Foundation will start providing collateral-free loans to lower income people in an attempt to break the cycle of poverty.
“How we create a bridge is by giving people an opportunity, education and the capacity in order to cross that bridge,” said Geingos when she received N$610 000 on behalf of her foundation from the Chinese Business Community on Friday afternoon at the Hilton Hotel.
The donation was facilitated by business mogul Stina Wu on behalf of Chinese business people operating in Namibia.
Geingos explained that the foundation aims to lend money, on a collateral-free basis, to women who sell kapana and those engaged in other small businesses. The loan amounts would be between N$5 000 and N$50 000. “There is a payment holiday in that they don’t have to pay for six months – they will only start paying us after that. Their loans will be zero percent, not a cent of interest will be charged on them. They will not be charged an admin or insurance fee,” said the first lady.
She explained that at the moment people in the second economy are effectively suffering from economic slavery. “They are working for micro lenders or they are working poor. How are you working poor? It is when you earn N$1 000 but the cost of the shack you rent and transport is N$900, so you working for N$100. We want to give that person a collateral-free loan,” she said.
In addition, Geingos said the foundation also wants to give young people access to collateral-free loans, with amounts between N$50 000 and N$250 000 but there will be five percent interest. She said once the beneficiary successfully pays the money back, 3 percent of the money would be given back to the beneficiary.
“We will only assist people if we are 100 percent sure that our assistance will lead you to escaping poverty. It is nice to give someone money but tomorrow that money is finished. We need to know now that whatever we do, is going to break the cycle of poverty that you are in,” she said.
She further said the young person needs to present a rejection letter from the bank. She added that if that young person can get N$250 000 from a bank then they don’t qualify for their loan.
“We are not a form of cheap funding. We will give it to you if we know you have no ability to get it from an aunt, uncle or the bank,” she said.
Meanwhile, Chinese businesswoman Stina said Chinese business people have witnessed that many Namibians still live in poverty, and are in need of medical and educational facilities.
“I feel that it is my obligation as part of the community to do what is in my capabilities to help those in need. For a very long time we have done the best we can, in various forms of charity, to plough back to society, give back to the country that I love and the people of this country that I love,” said Stina.