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Wezesha Project is a microfinance program located in the severely underserved South Kivu region of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Founded by Canada-based Christian organization Emergency Relief & Development Overseas (ERDO), the program aims to empower communities from the inside out, working exclusively with women to help them lift themselves and their families out of poverty.

Wezesha offers a single group loan product designed to help clients develop skills they already have into small sustainable businesses. Most women use the funds to buy products for resale at local markets (e.g. charcoal, soap, sugar), prepare and sell meals at their restaurants, or purchase materials to produce their own goods to sell (e.g. clothing).

All borrowers start with the minimum $50 loan and -- upon full repayment -- may double their amount at each loan cycle until they reach the maximum amount of $500. Each loan has a 30% annual interest rate, with no additional fees. In order to be eligible for Wezesha funding, borrowers must:

(1) Already be engaged in business activities

(2) Show a significant level of need

(3) Live within reasonable proximity to a project lending post

As a means of promoting sustainability, Wezesha assists borrowers in opening a group savings account with a local cooperative. Groups are encouraged to save increasing amounts with each loan cycle. Wezesha also offers exit grants to members who have reached the maximum loan size of $500 and 8 cycles, matching $0.50 for each $1 in savings.

A unique lending approach:

Wezesha Project already serves more than 1,600 women at lending posts located in their communities in the South Kivu region. The program has a waitlist of new clients that it is unable to support due to a lack of funding and resources. To meet this growing demand, Wezesha plans to open several more lending posts between Bukavu and Uvira, each serving a maximum of 240 women.

Kiva lenders’ funds will allow Wezesha to increase the size of its program by opening more lending posts, while keeping interest rates low and offering exit grants to members ready to graduate.

A Note About ERDO’s Portfolio Yield:
We care deeply about the cost that Kiva borrowers pay for their loans, which is why fair pricing is a core part of our initial due diligence process for Field Partners. With Kiva's 0% capital, many of our Field Partners are also able to add additional value to their loans by reducing interest rates, offering non-financial services or creating new loan products.
For partners with reported portfolio yields or average APRs higher than 50%, Kiva takes steps to check that the high rates are justified by the impact of the loans. Kiva also verifies that the partner is not generating unreasonable profits or paying inflated salaries, and that the partner’s elevated operating costs are justified by its operating environment and/or the design of its loan products.
We seek to support loans that don’t impose an unjustifiable cost burden on hardworking borrowers. We nevertheless recognize that in order to reach vulnerable and excluded people with high-impact products and services, some of our partners incur high costs that necessitate charging higher-than-average costs to borrowers in order to allow for sustainability and scale.
Factors that drive up the costs that this partner organization charges its borrowers include:

     • They operate in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which is a conflict-affected region. This can greatly increase the cost of safely delivering financial services to borrowers.
     • They provide very small loans. This leads to higher operating costs, since providing each individual loan presents a minimum per-unit cost.
     • They operate in an area with a limited or poorly functioning banking system. This makes it difficult to access funding locally, and makes it more challenging to send and receive payments on loans from outside the country.
     • They provide more than just cash to many of their borrowers, including costly wraparound services such as healthcare, financial or business training, agricultural extension services, insurance or access to education.
     • They operate in a region known to be at risk of natural disaster, which increases the cost of doing business.
     • They’re based in an area with a high cost of living and doing business. This is often due to the high demand and low supply of adequate housing and goods.
     • They operate in a market where microfinance is highly underdeveloped. This means that finding, training and maintaining qualified staff is more expensive and difficult than in more-developed markets.
     • They’re a small company or organization that hasn’t yet achieved the scale and efficiency necessary to reach sustainability and reduce pricing, but the impact of their services merits the opportunity to prove their business model.

Repayment Performance on Kiva

    This Field Partner All Kiva Partners
  Start Date On Kiva Jul 7, 2014 Oct 12, 2005
Total Loans $51,350 $688,388,125
Amount of raised Inactive loans $0 $658,125
Number of raised Inactive loans 0 497
Amount of Paying Back Loans $41,350 $130,720,650
Number of Paying Back Loans 42 145,479
Amount of Ended Loans $10,000 $557,009,350
Number of Ended Loans 5 694,672
Delinquency Rate 0.00% 8.18%
Amount in Arrears $0 $6,974,333
Outstanding Portfolio $18,918 $85,261,491
Number of Loans Delinquent 0 27,401
Default Rate 0.00% 1.10%
Amount of Ended Loans Defaulted $0 $6,121,238
Amount of Ended Loans $10,000 $557,009,350
Number of Ended Loans Defaulted 0 18,803
Currency Exchange Loss Rate 0.00% 0.21%
Amount of Currency Exchange Loss $0 $1,443,369
Refund Rate 0.00% 0.69%
Amount of Refunded Loans $0 $4,744,850
Number of Refunded Loans 0 5,273

Loan Characteristics On Kiva

    This Field Partner All Kiva Partners
  Loans to Women Borrowers 100.00% 74.24%
Average Loan Size $219 $416
Average Individual Loan Size $0 $655
Average Group Loan Size $1,093 $1,839
Average number of borrowers per group 5 8
Average GDP per capita (PPP) in local country $119 $3,379
Average Loan Size / GDP per capita (PPP) 183.62% 12.31%
Average Time to Fund a Loan 1.04 days 6.12 days
Average Dollars Raised Per Day Per Loan $209.12 $67.91
  Average Loan Term 4.88 months 10.69 months

Journaling Performance on Kiva

    This Field Partner All Kiva Partners
  Total Journals 4 339,412
  Journaling Rate 10.00% 41.58%
  Average Number of Comments Per Journal 0.00 0.07
  Average Number of Recommendations Per Journal 0.00 1.63

Borrowing Cost Comparison (based on 2013 data)

    This Field Partner Median for MFI's in Country All Kiva Partners
  Average Cost to Borrower 59% PY 56.00% PY 32.11% PY
  Profitability (return on assets) N/A 1.1% -1.96%
  Average Loan Size (% of per capita income) N/A 15.00% 19.61%

Country Fast Facts

Field Partner Staff

Mike Boomer
Alain Chiza
Blair Colliver
Tricia Shaw