Ouazzang, North Cameroon


The "Mofou Bank"

In Ouazzang, Cameroon, IPA has managed to open a third savings bank. The project of a class at Enge high school in Zurich was an immediate success.


It is called "Nakwa Kemey", in English "Let us flourish". The small bank was set up in 2018 in the north of Cameroon, in the region where the Mofou people live. After only a few months it had already 130 cooperatively organised members and had granted 60 loans at fair conditions. So far savings accounts worth CHF 2,500.- (GBP about 1,900) have been opened, for Cameroonian standards almost a sensation. Mofou men and women obviously want to use the chance IPA has given them with this project in the best possible way. "We now eat like princes", one of the borrowers joked, and she tells us how she has invested the money lent to her by the savings bank into a small shop and the sale of Beignets – bread rolls fried in oil. "Every week I pay the profit I have made of F CFA 15,000 (CHF 26.- / GBP 20.-) into my bank account." And she is not the only one. More than a dozen shops selling convenience goods have opened up in the small villages in the area. For the women they are invaluable. At long last they do not have to walk for hours to get a piece of soap or a box of matches. Almost 50 projects in agriculture and livestock farming were supported. At least for these families food security is no longer a distant dream. After only a few months everybody speaks of the "Mofou bank", with pride.

A lesson in democracy and leadership


The initial situation was precarious, but not hopeless. 85% of the people who live in this forgotten region live way below the poverty line. Hunger, a lack of drinking water and the hardly existing infrastructure determine their lives. But they are hard working and honest, and IPA had already made good and useful experiences with the set-up of savings banks. What was lacking were sponsors. This motivated a class at Enge high school to go for this project. During the discussion which project they wanted to support some of the students strongly favoured it – and won the vote. A classical lesson in democracy and leadership. The students proved to be very committed. The big budget of CHF 64,700 (GBP 50,000) did not scare them off. "We will manage", Kreshniq said dryly, and he was right, although the girls were actually the driving force. In Ouazzang a small building was erected and members of the management and the board of directors were elected and, most importanty, thoroughly trained. A motorcycle was bought to make taking care of the customers easier, but above all rules and regulations were set up. The regional society for cooperatives accepted the application of the savings bank straight away. Only four months after the start of the project the small bank was operational – unusual for Cameroon, but the students in Zurich had probably imagined it to be exactly like that.

Opportunities to earn money create perspectives