The reason for our meeting this summer was to discuss ways for Citara's to collaborate with the Turkish Grameen Microcredit Project (TGMP), a private, non-profit organization that provides loans and savings programs to the self-employed poor of Turkey. Their mission is to supply people the capital and tools to work their way out of poverty which they accomplish by providing borrowers access to collateral-free microcredit and other basic training in order to start their own businesses.
The TGMP has 25 branches throughout Turkey and makes microloans on the average of 500 YTL (about 385 USD) to women living below the poverty line. Many of these women use the loan to start their own business, and one of the popular businesses is making traditional Turkish crafts - something Citara's knows about very well. From our interview the year before, Ruth was aware of our involvement with women and crafts and thought it would be a good way to support TGMP borrowers who use their loans for craft-based businesses.
As of July 2008, the TGMP had registered over 10,000 members with approximately 9,845 borrowers, all of whom are women. The cumulative loan disbursements totaled $11.4 million and cumulative savings deposits of about $460,000.
What impressed me most in my discussion with Ruth is that the TGMP is not a finance project, but a project whose aim is to help people lift themselves out of poverty. In the development of the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, the institution on which the principles of the TGMP are based, Sixteen Decisions were developed in order to provide areas for participants to focus upon. These include:
- The four principles of the Grameen Bank - Discipline, Unity, Courage and Hard Work.
- Bringing prosperity to their families.
- Not living in dilapidated homes.
- Growing vegetables year-round both to eat, and to sell.
- Planting as many seedlings as possible during the planting season.
- Planning family size, minimizing expenditures, and looking after their health.
- Educating children and ensuring they can earn money to pay for their education.
- Keeping children and the environment clean.
- Building and using pit latrines.
- Purifying water for drinking.
- Declining the dowry system and not practicing child marriage.
- Preventing injustice.
- Undertaking bigger investments for higher income.
- Helping others.
- Restoring breaches in discipline within the community.
- Taking part in social activities collectively.
** Note: Facts and details for the TGMP came from my meeting with Ruth MacQuiddy and information sheets she provided me on the Turkish Grameen Microcredit Project.