Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The EP Church, Ghana Micro Credit and Savings Scheme

I wrote this short piece for the Mission Yearbook, and they didn't use it, but I like it anyway!

An EPDRA employee, about to set off for the Hohoe market. 

The Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Ghana, witnesses to Jesus Christ not only in its chapels, but in its school, health clinics, agricultural facilities, and development projects, as well.  Much of its Christian service is coordinated by the church’s Development and Relief Agency, EPDRA.

In recent years, the church has begun an innovative Micro Credit and Savings Scheme to encourage savings and investment among the more than 50% of the population that works in the informal sector of the economy.

Happy Isaaka, an EPDRA employee, travels by motorcycle through the town of Hohoe, collecting about a dollar a day from the women and men who work in the market, who sell and trade goods along the roadside, who are carpenters and tailors, and who grow, harvest, cook, and sell food.

After a certain amount of time – usually one to six months – the money is returned to the account holder.  With this lump sum, they are able to improve and invest in their businesses.  After six months, an account holder also becomes eligible for a loan. 

The program began in Hohoe in July, 2009.  After one year, almost three hundred people had signed up.  More than half of the participants come from the town’s Muslim community.  For them, the EP Church is a trusted and caring institution, one that truly knows how to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. 

Prayer:  God of the fields, market stalls, and roadside stands, we pray for all who labor to provide for themselves and their families.  We lift up to you the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Ghana, and its Development and Relief Agency.  May you help the church nourish your people in body, soul, and spirit, with life-giving faith in Jesus Christ.