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Community Services in Rural Villages

The Action10 Community services program is unique. It involves social entrepreneurs in rural villages as equal partners and has been developed by S.E.VIE and Action10 during four years by implementing the Ten Actions on the ground;  real time evaluation planning, needs driven activities, resilience, knowledge sharing, quality values etc. Another two years are expected to be required before the program strategy is ready to be implemented large-scale. The program strategy can then be implemented into any rural village in the world and has potential to be a key component in the world-wide extreme poverty eradication.

The expected outcomes from the Community services program are the availability of new products and services and thereby increasing of living conditions among the villagers and as well the generation of income for entrepreneurs and meeting their need of education and social security. The program is based on the value-platform that it must address the realities on the ground and establish a direct, respectful and equal partnership with the people living under extremely poor conditions.

The program is based on the products and services provided. In such a sense it is social enterprising with a sustainable economy as customers are willing to pay for what is offered.  The realities of the social entrepreneurs in the program are addressed. Their need of income, training and social security including health care is in focus.

Institutional capacity

In terms of institutional capacity among social entrepreneurs in the rural villages S.E.VIE has developed and implemented a unique structure for the cooperatives that aim at encouraging quality performance in solidarity. The structure is based on the development of an Assembly of entrepreneurs, for which a President and a Secretary are elected. The role of the President and the Secretary are essential. The President must know all the members and be able to meet each member when necessary. The Secretary must be able to read and speak French so that she can answer questions from members regarding written documents share by S.E.VIE. The President and the Secretary shall also act as intermediaries between S.E.VIE and the other women.

Within the Assembly sub-groups are developed and these are called cooperatives. Each cooperative bring together about five members and a leader is elected. The cooperative is responsible for each of its members, and the paying back of the investment is made by the cooperative as a whole and not individually. The entrepreneurs who decide to develop a cooperative must agree perfectly well with each other and be ready to support each other. The investment program included a small penalty if funds are not paid back on time. Not a large sum, but enough to encourage performance. This penalty is also shared by the cooperative. In reality it becomes not only the cooperative supporting financially good performances for each entrepreneur, but the whole village.

Investment security

The social solidarity structure installed in the Action10 S.E.VIE Community services program aims at minimizing the risks with providing investment capital and replaces the traditional type of security requested by Banks and Micro finance institutes. The S.E.VIE collects the refund and interests every week, to support with a secure method to keep funds. It is the cooperative leader that collects the refund from the cooperative members and gives it to S.E.VIE.

Finance administration and accounting

Workshops on business management are provided in rural villages according to a model developed by S.E.VIE in 2013. Investment capital in a new business is compared with cultivating corn. We first have to sow the grain, then manage the land, then harvest, then sell what we have harvested, and all the time keep some of the grain to be able to sow again. This comparison is then combined with practical exercises, where three “wallets” are used and corn grains are distributed between the wallets, to exemplify the procedures. Receive an investment capital, investing in a business, prepare the product or service, sell, save money, pay back with interest, manage the household costs and then invest again. Through the exercise the trainers can see if the entrepreneurs agree with that the full investment capital must be invested in the business, for example buying raw material. Also through the exercise with three wallets and a certain amount of corn grain being distributed between the wallets, each entrepreneur actually develop their business plan during the workshop. The workshops also address the goal with the program, autonomy; thus the entrepreneurs are encouraged to try to save enough capital to be able to reinvest without taking a new loan.

The procedure of signing agreements is often introduced to the villages for the first time. Most of the entrepreneurs cannot read or write, why the secretary will read the agreement text and the entrepreneurs will sign with their thumbprint. It is important that the entrepreneurs understand the agreement is developed for the benefit of both parties; that it is a security measure for the entrepreneurs as well. When the cooperative leaders meet with S.E.VIE each week to provide the repayment and interest, they receive a receipt to verify the repayment. Moreover a separate sheet is filled in which compiles the total payment of each cooperative member.

S.E.VIE meets in person with each new entrepreneur and goes through business planning, managing and making inventory of material, financial accounting and signing agreements. These topics are usually totally new and the entrepreneurs never before considered business management in this manner. Thus workshops and coaching is an essential activity in the Community services program.

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