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last update: January 27th 2006


REACHING THE POOR WITH MICROCREDIT: THE MISSING LINK
A book written by:
Abono Humfred Mbah Awanka.

My Participation in the International Course at the International Institute - Histadrut triggers the Publication of a Book!

You may one day read about the existence of a book titled: REACHING THE POOR WITH MICROCREDIT: THE MISSING LINK. Without insinuating that it is a book of very good quality as I am not in a position to judge myself, I should at least admit that writing the book was triggered by my participation in the International Course on Human Resource Development for Micro-Enterprises and for Micro-Finance Organisations in Israel from October to November 1999. The course fell under the Economic and Social Development Courses offered by the Government of Israel through the International Centre for Cooperation in the Israeli Foreign Ministry, the MASHAV. It was organised and hosted by the International Institute for Development, Labour and Cooperatives - the International Institute - Histadrut in Kfar Saba. We were 31 participants on the course from 25 countries of Africa, Asia, Europe and South America. The course was rich and intense, comprising Modules like Development, Micro-Enterprises, Enterprise and Theory to Practice.

When someone with a christian background is admitted to take a course like this one in Israel, his immediate wish is to get there and visit the holy sites. Although these visits were made possible by the Institute, the intensity of the course rendered them infinitesimal. It was clear from the work load that we were not there for tourism but much more to acquire knowledge that will enable us upon return to our respective countries transform deserts into greenery as the Israeli had done in their country. This urge was made even clearer by the lady who guided us during our visit to the Kibbutz who at the time of our separation entreated us to always look at the sun though it burns as it is a source of hope.

We were given a lot of material to read and I took time to classify it into two: what could be useful to my full-time job as an Administrative Assistant of the University of Dschang and what was going to be useful for my cooperative on whose ticket I was attending this course. I had least thought that the course would open up my mind to write a book in a domain where few else have tried their hands in Cameroon; being my own way of converting the desert into greenery! The idea did not come to my mind although I had gathered a good part of the material in the book when I had not dreamt that I will one day attend a course of this nature in Israel. I can now still remember that during one of the discussion sessions with Zvi Galor, then Academic Director of the International Institute - Histadrut and specialist on cooperatives, we talked at length about the member's ownership of his cooperative and other cooperatives. I illustrated with an example that is now in the book wherein the League Manager of the Credit Union Movement in Cameroon told members that League money belongs to the League, and by implication not to the Affiliates! In other words, the manager was asking the members to take their eyes off what was legitimately theirs and which they had caused to exist! This pricked me and my mind was greatly troubled. After the meeting during which this declaration was made I kept asking myself how this could be possible or plausible to say the least, without knowing that I would use the point to illustrate the question of ownership first during the course in Israel and subsequently in a book.

Toward the end of the course, it turned out that Zvi was to supervise me in the writing of my end of course paper. When he saw the autonomy with which I had done my project and doing it (presumably) well, he remarked, "You have very great potentials". It still did not dawn on me that I could use the great potentials to write a booklet. If there is one reason over which I can praise myself, it is that I did not dump the readable material I was given during the course. For four years, i.e., from 1999 to 2003, I read over this material more than six times. Each time I related the knowledge to the situation in my cooperative in particular and in other cooperatives in Cameroon, I could draw a clear line between what is, and what the cooperative ought to be. Then one day I asked myself why I should each time simply shake my head keep sighing, cross arms and stay quiet though in disapproval of what is not going right. If what is wrong is of some people's doing, I said to myself, then it may be necessary and good to let them know. Finally I told myself if I look at the sun, with my great potential, then I would come out with something that would better the situation albeit to a little extent. It may be small to remind people that what they are doing could be improved on just as it is small when the parent cautions the child not to play with fire. This however saves the child from burns.

I then resolved to think aloud by writing a booklet that could contribute to make things better in the domain of micocredit. When I started writing however, I saw my pen growing longer and what was intended to be a booklet of not more than fifty pages grew into a book of one hundred and sixty pages. This would not have been possible if I had not attended the cause which stuffed me with the wealth of knowledge I can now boast to possess in the domain. It is true, I have had to do further reading to improve on the knowledge acquired in Israel. The take-off point however, was the International Institute - Histadrut. If you see the above title, and the author happen to be me, then note that the International Institute - Histadrut made it happen!

Abono Humfred Mbah Awanka.
MASHAV ALUMNA, 1999.
abonohumfred@hotmail.com
proxy_health@yahoo.co.uk
(237) 752 07 33.
 

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