Zambia has increased the number of women groups benefiting the village banking soft loan program from 11 to 4O in Kapiri Mposhi District.

The village banking program is being implemented by the Department of Community Development aimed at empowering women through soft loans in the district.

ZANIS reports that District Community Development Officer, Priscilla Mangowanyi who disclosed the development in an interview today, said the number of women groups benefiting the initiative has increased because a number of them are paying back the loans.

She said this trend has enabled other new groups to be included on the beneficiaries’ list.

Ms. Mangowanyi said the women groups were paying back the soft loans at the interest rate of 0.4 percent per week translating to 20 percent interest per month.

She stated that the program has been rolled out from Mushimbili and Kakwelesa satellite areas to four more areas that include Mukonchi, Lunshimba, St. Paul’s and Chipepo since it was launched in 2014.

“Defaulter rates among beneficiaries of the village banking soft loan program in the district has reduced almost to none so the seed money has grown to benefit other new groups,” Mrs. Mangowanyi said.

At its inception in 2014, the program was funded with an initial sum of K 75, 000 has a projected growth to about K 120, 000 in 2017.

She said her department has also increased the funding threshold from the initial K 1, 000 per group to K 2, 000 as funding for each group in the second phase.

The soft loans are aimed at boosting business activities and empowering the vulnerable women engaged in Small Medium Enterprises (SME) such as trading and knitting to reduce poverty in rural communities.

“We initially started with two sub-centers but the village banking program has now expanded to cover four more areas this has ultimately increased the number of women groups and individuals to benefit from the program,” Ms. Mangowanyi said.

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