Micro loans: This major and growing micro credit program is supporting the extremely poor households (monthly income of approximately USD12.50/person). Micro credit (individual loans USD40 to USD200) is in this case part of a global approach which includes training, support for health and education, housing, depending on the needs of each household and on the willingness of the people concerned and the community to join their efforts. The program generally focuses on women and children and looks at ways of supplementing any existing family income. eg: raising chickens, ducks or pigs, growing rice or dragon fruit, etc. These projects will often be implemented at their homes to enable them to continue their family responsibilities with children, elderly relatives, etc. Assistance is provided to ensure the women have the training required for a successful project including advice on fertilizers, watering requirements, vaccination schedules, feed and additives etc. Visits are be made to these households by Thien Chi staff on a regular basis to assess progress and ensure a positive outcome. Loans are initially with no interest, and repaid either monthly (for instance for petty trade) or after 4-6 months, depending on the nature of the investment. The recovery rate is over 99% and the impact on family income excellent: + 25%/year on average.

Thien Chi currently works with 3,600 such households (July 2017). Every month 30-40 households “graduate” out of poverty and are replaced by other poor households.

Microcredit – family profiles

Tanh Linh:  Micro Loan  3rd cycle – 3.8M VND (approx USD190)  The husband has a  lung disease and cannot perform any heavy work. His wife is now pregnant, and also unwell, but works some hours in the local cashew nut factory. She earns approx 60,000VND per day (USD3.00) when she works. They have a son in year 8, and Thien Chi has been supporting the family with an education scholarship for 3 years to ensure he continues at school. The husband is using the micro loan to raise chickens.  As he has no prior experience, Thien Chi has provided him with training to acquire the technique and skills to raise healthy chickens.  They are now 3 months old and will be ready for sale in another month.

Ham Thuan Nam:  Micro Loan:  1st cycle – 1M VND (approx USD50)
This wife has inoperable liver cancer and her husband has a stroke which has left him with some brain damage and unable to work.  They have sold their dragon fruit farm to raise money to pay for her expensive medication  – 1M VND  for a 3 month supply (approx USD50).  Although they remain living in their house,  the new owner has told them they need to move within the next year as he wishes to plant more dragon fruit trees.  They have 2 unmarried sons, 32 and 29 years old.  The older son has a mental disability and is only able to work when he is well.  The younger son works away from home and doesn’t want to get married as he worries who will look after his parents.  The micro loan from Thien Chi has  allowed the wife to purchase 100 ducks.  Unfortunately, 40 of these contracted a disease and died, and a further 30 have been sold to purchase more medication. She is currently raising the 30 ducks and selling eggs to supplement their income.  The husband makes rice wine at home generating income of approx 30,000VND (USD1.50) per day. The rice waste from his wine making is used to feed the ducks which makes them grow quickly.  They worry what they will do next year when they have to move from the house, but the wife explains: She and her husband are happy.  He looks after her, and she looks after him.