One very important aspect of the Bungu project that we haven’t touched on thus far is that Bungu is one of three projects in the 2Seeds Network that is on-track to transition from a project to a business in the coming years. This essentially means that within a few years, we hope that Project Coordinators will no longer be needed in Bungu, and that the partners will be able to run the group’s activities with less direct intervention from 2Seeds. Having this goal in the back of our minds is already beginning to influence many of the decisions we’re making about how to move forward.
Part of the reason Bungu was put on this path is that the group has an incredibly strong financial system in place. This is largely due to the work of last year’s Project Coordinators, Mitch and Cam. When the boys arrived in 2013, the partners had a large amount of outstanding debt from previous 2Seeds loans for agricultural inputs. Seeing this as the largest challenge facing the project, Cam and Mitch put in place a strict repayment schedule and matching program. By May of 2014, all of the partners were not only 100% debt-free, but they had established both individual savings funds and a group savings fund!
When Whitney and I arrived in August, the savings fund had been growing all summer and it was time for it to have a safer home. As you may remember from our Q1 goals, we were aiming to open a group bank account by the end of October. We are thrilled to announce that on October 15, the group members succeeded in that goal and our group savings account is official!
Because we were opening a group account to which multiple people would have access, the procedure was a bit complex. First, the Bungu Project had to be recognized as a legitimate group by both the village of Bungu and the district of Korogwe, a process which involved a lot of papers, stamps and signatures. Once all of our paper work was in order, we, along with the four partners that were chosen to be account signatories, loaded onto the bus to Korogwe. After about three hours at the bank and a monumental number of forms, thumb-prints and passport pictures, we were able to make our first official deposit!
As of right now, the group savings fund has a total of TZS 1,290,000, which is equivalent to about $815! As we move along the road towards becoming a business, this fund will be an invaluable resource for the partners. Stay tuned for updates as we start to find ways to effectively use this treasure trove!