ALFALIT Liberia Inc. has made its presence felt in the country’s education sector over the past 10 years since it launched an adult literacy program that now benefits thousands of disadvantaged women and young girls, by teaching them how to read and write. The milestone of a decade has got the organization looking forward, this time, to putting learned literacy into action – unmistakably so, in the field of microfinance.
The success of ALFALIT enabled the organization to pilot a skills training program, “Sew to Sell”, which spanned over three years. Sew to Sell climaxed last week with an elaborate graduation ceremony where 60 persons were awarded certificates for successfully completing the program.
Without a doubt, ALFALIT, as a result of the program, has been helping to reduce Liberia’s approximately 70 percent illiterate population with specific focus on adult and youth literacy. Most of the women who benefited from Alfalit’s programs had lost the chance to seek formal education, due to Liberia’s 14 years civil crisis. But the organization helped them regain hope and empowerment through comprehending the written word.
One hurdle that usually impedes such progress is the issue of access to funding that would to turn acquired skills into entrepreneurship for the benefit of the graduates and their families. It was in this vein and to thunderous applause and celebration from guests and graduates alike, that Rev. Giddings announced ALFALIT’s plans to establish a micro-finance bank, where current and prospective graduates would seek finances to establish their businesses.
The organization currently runs a micro finance program, but the Giddings said the service needed to be extended to a bank status to make it more resourceful and efficient so that it can cater to the financial needs of all the beneficiaries across the country.
“The ultimate goal of our micro-finance program is to have an ALFALIT Micro Finance Bank. And this will come to fruition soon,” Rev. Giddings said.
He, however, wants the women to organize themselves into cooperatives to ensure efficiency and unity amongst them. “It will be very important if you were to form yourself into cooperatives. If this is done, getting funding to establish your business won’t be that difficult as compared to an individual doing it on her own.
Rev. Giddings noted that the establishment of this bank would be in line with the mission of the organization that seeks to eradicate the kinds of sufferings that exist as a result of illiteracy.
“We feel that after bringing those people out of the darkness, we should help to empower them economically. So the bank will help our women have access to loans to establish their own businesses. We have thought about this and we must do it,” he said.
The ALFALIT boss envisions that, for the year 2017 and forward, his organization will diversify the program and infuse additional one or two courses, though he did not specify.
But the Chairman of ALFALIT Board of Directors, Dr. Kenneth Y. Best, expressing happiness over the pronouncement of additional courses to the program, added that catering and culinary arts would be a better addition to the skills training program because Liberian women, who are already very good at cooking, would be taught how to cook for commercial purposes.
Dr. Best lauded Rev. Giddings for being so passionate about his country and helping so many Liberians come out of the darkness of illiteracy. “You have done much and you continue to do more to save your people from the slavery of illiteracy and now you are trying to pull them out from the grips of abject poverty. What more can we say to you, but thank you,” he said.
Dr. Best Also lauded ALFALIT International founder, Joseph Milton, for investing his resources in such a unique program that is transforming lives across the world.