Representatives from the UN, Government of East Timor, donor community and civil society, met clients of the country’s two main microfinance institutions, Moris Rasik and Tuba Rai Metin. The visit was organized by the Inclusive Finance for the Under Served Economy (INFUSE), a joint UNDP/UNCDF programme, funded also by the Ministry of Economy and Development, and the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID). The programme aims at increasing access to sustainable financial services by the poor and low income population, while taking a sector-wide approach in addressing these issues.The delegation flew to the city of Maliana, 150 km southwest of the national capital Dilli, and attended one of Moris Rasik’s centre meetings. Based on the Grameen methodology, clients of Moris Rasik form solidarity groups, in which members support each other. Repayments and all transactions with the group loan clients occur at centre meetings, with the transactions recorded in deposit books and a Collection and Disbursement Sheet. The clients, individual recipients of group loan products, keep the books and bring them back each week for the meeting. Craig Sugden, the Resident Representative of the Asian Development Bank, who took part in the delegation pointed out that “These clients are East Timor’s future entrepreneurs. Loans and savings options help boost the income of poor households, and also encourage initiative and enterprise”.
Delfina Fatima, is an entrepreneur who has been running her bakery in Maliana for a year. A few months ago she received a $500 loan from Tuba Rai Metin, which has made a huge difference to her business. “I’m now producing a lot more bread. I get through 3 sacks of flour per day and I’m making a good profit. I supply bread to people all over Maliana, including a daily batch of 450 bread rolls to the school.”
Following the 2006 crisis in East Timor, 4 microfinance organisations were wiped out. Even now there are only 3 such institutions in the country. But those that exist are growing rapidly; Tuba Rai Metin had 4 branch offices in December 2009 and 501 new clients. By December 2010 they had increased the number of branch offices to 11 and had 2687 new clients.
UNDP’s Resident Representative, Finn Reske-Nielsen, states that: “This was a great opportunity to hear directly from the women who are benefitting from the microfinance services. The variety of enterprises from tofu production to motorbike taxis, and the determination of the clients to improve their businesses, is very impressive”.
INFUSE collaborates and coordinates with all stakeholders involved in the development of an inclusive financial sector in East Timor, facilitating growth of financial service providers and developing the financial business support infrastructure.