The year under review was one of evaluation of operational systems and
procedures, and development of strategies for scaling up, increased impact and
GAWFA continued to provide services to its clientele in the rural and
urban areas. It continued to network with other national, regional and international
development organisations. GAWFA also continued to advocate for women, for microenterprise
development and for microfinance operations.
The Association experienced a number of constraints and obstacles which
affected its programme performance. Key among these was to secure external funding for the
It was, overall, a year of challenges.
1. CREDIT PROGRAMME
1.1 The loans to groups continued to increased during the year. In
1996/97 44 loans were made to groups as compared to 73 in 1997/98. This represent a 66%
increase over the previous year. This also resulted in an increase in the average loan
sizes, from D2,320 to D5,178 as group loan sizes tend to be larger than individual loans.
Group loans were used both for redistribution among members of the group as well as to
finance communal activities.
1.2 Lending for agricultural activities also increased as a result of a
greater number of groups in the URD qualifying for loans. This is in line with
GAWFAs strategy to increase lending to the sector as a means of diversifying its
portfolio, reaching poorer women who are unable to engage in off-farm income generating
activities and contributing to food security. It is interesting to note that more clients
borrow for agricultural activities in the URD than in any of GAWFAs other
operational areas, primarily to procure inputs and small implements for vegetable
gardening, sheep rearing and farming.
1.3 In spite of the increase in lending to the agricultural sector, the
commercial sector remained the predominant activity among GAWFAs clients, capturing
63% of the amount of loans disbursed during the year and 61% of the number of loans. The
agricultual sector, at second place, captured 25% of the amount disbursed and 30% of the
number of loans disburse.
1.4 LRD/URD remained the area with the lowest rate of loan activity and
client intake during the year. This could be attributed to the inexperience of the Credit
Assistant who was servicing the area while Mrs Haddy Mboge was away in Cameroon undergoing
a training course, and also inadequate means of reaching the clients.
1.5 The group lending approach proved to be the main channel for
reaching those women who are too poor to meet the savings precondition for borrowing. By
saving as collective body, they would be able to meet the requirements, hence be able to
access loans, either for individual activities or for common purpose.
1.6 The Association still continued to grant loans with grace periods
for agricultural loans and loans for the procurement of agricultural produce at the time
of harvest to be sold during the lean months, the latter being a favourite activity of
women in the NBD. The policy was adopted in response to clients appeal that monthly
payment of loans, particularly in the rainy season, created repayment difficulties for
1.7 Interest on loans remained at 25% per annum or 2.09% per month.
This rate proved to be acceptable to most borrowers especially because loan sizes are
small and repayment periods short. Informal interviews conducted with womens groups
revealed that they charge higher interest in the informal lending services they provide
for their members, where rates could be as high as 10% per month. Some groups increase the
interest rate when they borrow to onlend to their members.
Please refer to table - loan disbursement summary for more details.
2.1 The savings mobilisation programme continued to attract new savers.
228 new accounts were opened during the year, with 26% of new accounts belonging to groups
and more than 75% from the Greater Banjul area. Lower River Division had the least number
of new accounts.
2.2 The total amount of deposits collected was D652,079.00, up by 54%
from 1996/97. Again, Greater Banjul topped the list with more than 59% of the amount of
collections, followed by Western Division. The least amount of savings was collected from
Lower River Division.
2.3 The rate of savings decreased significantly in the rural areas
during the rainy season. Only groups that were engaged in off-farm income generating
activities were able to maintain their savings.
2.4 A large percentage of borrowers used their savings to service their
loans by way of direct transfers. The highest withdrawal rates occurred during feasts such
as Tobaski and Ramadan and at the time when the school year begins.
2.5 Interest rate on savings remained at 8% per annum during the year,
paid twice a year.
2.6 At June 30, the cumulative total savings collected since the
beginning of the programme in April 1994 was D1,075,000. The total number of accounts was
1170 representing 11,700 clients. The end-of-year balance was D727,520, 68% more than the
balance for 1996/97.
3.BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT AND TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE
3.1 The SED activities of the Association was suspended during the year
due primarily to lack of funds. The VSO volunteer, who was also SED Officer, assignment
with GAWFA came to end in April, 1998.
3.2 Technical assistance continued to be provided to clients during
client visits and in the office. Topics covered included advice on business
diversification, business planning, advertisement strategies, market opportunities and
pricing of products.
4. INFORMATION, EDUCATION, COMMUNICATION
4.1 The Central Bank of The Gambia granted a licence to GAWFA to
operate as a Savings and Credit Company. I am proud to say that GAWFA is the only licence
organisation to operate as a microfinance company in The Gambia. This has given the
Association greater credibility both locally and internationally.
5. PERSONNEL DEVELOPMENT
5.1 Credit and Administrative staff continued upgrading their computer
skills with assistance from the Small Enterprise Development Officer. The training
focussed on skills for word processing and spreadsheet operations.
5.2 A Finance and Adminstrative Manager and three savings and Credit
Assistants were recruited during the period.
5.3 Staff and Board members participated in in-house workshops in
financial and credit management facilitated by WWB. The workshops focussed on portfolio
projections, budgeting, performance indicators, credit methodologies and portfolio
management. The workshops also included sessions on assessment of GAWFAs outreach
activities, performance and constraints in scaling up. The training should enhance staff
output and effectiveness.
5.4 GAWFA was represented at the African Regional Microfinance
Practitioners Network Meetings by the General Manager, Mrs Mariama Ashcroft, in Addis
Ababa in Febuary and by the Mr M M Jarboh in Abidjan, Ivory Coast in August. The theme for
the meetings was "How to build successful National Networks", as well as a
Regional Network. GAWFAs participation was financed by UNDP and WWB.
5.5 Mrs Haddy Mboge, Savings and Credit Officer complelted a nine
months Diploma programme in Integrated Rural Development in PAID/WA Cameroon. She has
since assumed her responsibilities in URD/LRD.
5.6 At the Beginning of July this year the longest servicing General
Manager of the Association, Mrs Mariama Ashcroft, joined the Womens World Banking in
New york as a Relationship Manager for Africa.During her dynamic leadership the
Association has made significant achiements. Notable amongs this are obtaining a licence
for the Association from the Central Bank of The Gambia and the construction of the
Associations Head Office.
5.7 Staff attended workshops organised by TANGO and other government
and non-governmental organisations. Staff also attended workshops, meetings and
6. ORGANISATIONAL ACTIVITIES
6.1 The Board of Directors organised a two days retreat aimed at
providing an opportunity to evaluate existing policies and practices and formulating new
policies reflecting the changing status and expectations of GWFA.
6.2 As 30th June the following were at GAWFAs Board
Mrs. Catherine Goswell Chairperson
Mrs. Betty Saine
Mrs. Oley Dibba
Mrs. Yassin Sey
Mrs. Laura Thorpe
Mrs. Winifred Forster
Mrs. Agnes Bruce representing MGHS Ex-Pupils
Mrs. Sarah Grey Johnson representing YWCA
Ms. Aminatta Dibba
Mrs. Adele Sock
Mr. Wilmot John
6.3 GAWFA celebrated its 10th year anniversary, which was acclaimed a
success in term of improved public awareness of the Association, although not much was
raised in terms of funds.
6.4 AS part of its 10th year anniversary GAWFA hosted the WWB Africa
Regional Meeting from 27th - 30th October, 1997.
6.5 The Finance and Loans Committees met to appraise loan requests of
more than D5,000, and to review GAWFAs financial reports.
7 RESOURCE MOBILISATION AND MANAGEMENT
7.1 Interest on loans and investments, membership registration fees and
annual subscriptions continued to be an ongoing source of funds for investment and
operations. 51% of total income generated during the year came from internal sources, the
balance was obtained from reserves built over the years. There was no grants and donors
during the year.
7.2 Deposits mobilised were invested in Treasury bills to yield higher
interest income because they were not needed to finance loan capital.
7.3 Deposits mobilised were invested in Treasury bills to yield higher
interest income because they were not needed to finance loan capital.
7.4 The construction of GAWFAs Resource Centre which was approved
by GAMWORKS last year, was started in April. The building when completed, sometimes in
December, 1998, will also in addition to a serving as a resource centre provide offices to
7.5 The Board of Director due to the Associations financial
difficulties decided during the year to waive their sitting allowances.
7.6 The Gambia Government continued to provide assistance in the form
of duty waivers on equipment.
7.7 The Standard Bank after an appeal made to them decided to waived
all bank charges in connected with the operations of our Accounts with them.
7.8 GAWFA will be benefitting from a two years technical assistance
provided by Republic of China on Taiwan. The grant which was signed on behalf of GAWFA by
the SOS for Finance and Economic Affairs and on behalf of ROC by the Chinese Ambassador in
The Gambia, has three components; Viz, the constructions of four Savings and Credit
Centres (SACC), Staff training, and Management Information Systems.
7.7 No local fund raising activities was implemented during the year.
8.1 Membership with TANGO was renewed and staff participated in
different activities organised by TANGO and its members. GAWFA participated in TANGO's WID
Task Force and facilitated in training workshops organised by TANGO for local NGO's.
8.2 Efforts to establish a network of microfinance organisations
continued. In this regard, the General Manager attended a workshop in Dakar aimed at
forming an African regional network. The network was launched and a Board of Directors
elected, including The Gambia represented by GAWFA.
8.3 The Central Bank continued to provide technical support to GAWFA.
Networking opportunities have greatly enhanced GAWFA's visibility and
provided avenues for impacting on policies and practices which discriminate against women