Logone-Birni, North Cameroon


Ten years Savings Bank

In 2008 the project for a savings bank in Logone-Birni was started. After the last expansion into the region of Kidam it has now reached its optimal size.


A failed project by the African Development Bank was built up by IPA. The building already existed, the institution was officially registered and there were even statutory documents. But the savings bank in Logone-Birni had never been operationally active, so the idea sounded interesting. A small local bank whose managers knew the clients in the area would grant small loans and encourage people to save money. With fair conditions and good advice, Nigerian loan sharks would be competed against and finally driven away. Avoiding the mistakes of the preceeding project was one of the most simple tasks.

Ten years later we can say that things went according to plan. However, the financial and political environment could not have been worse. The already fragile economy in the north of the country was even more damaged by the assaults of Boko Haram further west. Closed borders, assembly bans, trade and travel restrictions, how can an economy flourish under such circumstances? But the savings bank also had its trump card: "Papa Marouf", the holy and wise man of the region, is the ideal president. There is also our extremely committed IPA partner and a management that focuses its work on advising their credit recipients to the best of their knowledge.

Difficult expansion into the region of Kidam


The savings bank in Logone-Birni survived all the problems and was finally established in the area of Kidam, after a first expansion into the region of Hinalé. The government had prohibited every meeting of more than twenty people, the fear of assaults was still big, but for the people in Kidam, the savings bank was the chance of their lives. They would get loans at fair conditions from an institution with a good reputation, backed by a Swiss organisation which is well known in the area. Of course the interest was enormous. Hundreds of people had to be informed in dozens of small workshops. This was a mammoth task for all the people involved. Already 130 new members have joined the cooperatively organised bank and almost 300 applications for loans have been handed in. 100 of them were granted in a first phase. Now a lot of different small businesses have sprung up like mushrooms. They will advance the economy of the area in future.

The savings bank is still going well after ten years. More than 400 members from three regions not only pay their annual fees, but also their contributions to the solidarity fund. Together, with the interest from the loans, this makes a successful business model possible. However, putting their money into a savings account is still not very popular in Cameroon, it is often kept under mattresses. People are not willing to entrust their money to a bank, but maybe this will change over the next ten years.

The economy starts growing again