Members can access HAFOTI’s revolving credit to invest in their own, independent businesses. Members have used revolving credit to open their own small shops and buy equipment. Access to capital is normally very difficult to obtain for women in rural Timor-Leste, so this is an essential opportunity for members.
The HAFOTI Revolving Credit Fund provides loans of between USD$100 and USD$300 specifically for small business activities. The loans are available for periods of 6 months, 12 months or 18 months, and are repaid monthly. The interest rate varies depending on the length of time the money is borrowed, ranging from 6% – 18%.
There is a limited amount of money available each year, which is shared between the seven districts where HAFOTI has member groups. Applications are made through the secretariat and approved by the Board at their three-monthly meetings. Criteria for approving applications include: the loan must be used to establish or expand a small business; the feasibility of the business idea; all past loans must have been repaid. Priority is given to first time borrowers from HAFOTI; those who do not have loans with other micro finance organizations; and evidence of financial need.
Successful applicants are visited over the period of time they have the loan as part of the three-monthly monitoring programme, and assisted where possible with issues they may have establishing and running their businesses.
HAFOTI also guarantees new groups a set income from the virgin coconut oil [link] they produce and the groups use this guaranteed income to begin their first steps business development.
HAFOTI also supports members with on-going training in new product development and business skills training, as well as life skills.