What We Do
Through our innovative programs and the unique relationship fostered with the local church, Seed Effect combines economic empowerment with education and Christian discipleship to transform lives and promote dignity in South Sudan.
South Sudan Micro Finance
What is microfinance? “It’s a hand-up, not a hand-out.”
Seed Effect utilizes two microfinance models to empower the South Sudanese: credit-led microfinance and savings-led microfinance.
Through our credit-led microfinance program, Seed Effect empowers the financially poor to break the cycle of physical poverty by providing collateral-free microloans and other financial services to support income-generating businesses.
As clients utilize their microloan to grow their business, they are empowered to better provide food, healthcare and school fees for themselves and their family. And, with the repayment of each loan, the funds are reissued as new loans to other entrepreneurs, thereby having a multiplying, ripple effect within the community.
Seed Effect employs a time-tested group lending methodology* consisting of the following elements:
• Small loans (Average $150)
• Small groups (5-20 members that cross-guarantee each other’s loans)
• Short terms (4-9 months depending on the loan cycle)
• Frequent payments (Collected at weekly or monthly group meetings)
• Incentive for potential, future larger loans (To further promote repayment of a collateral-free loan)
*Source: A Billion Bootstraps, Phil Smith and Eric Thurman
Savings-led microfinance provides self-selected groups of 10 to 25 people the opportunity to pool their savings and then provide interest-bearing loans within their group. Loans can be used for a group member’s business or household needs while also providing other group members a return on their accumulated savings. Savings groups meet weekly to collect savings and monthly to disburse loans within their groups.
Savings-led microfinance furthers our mission to provide access to economic empowerment, education and spiritual discipleship by:
• Empowering a broader segment of the community. Savings groups compliment our credit-led microfinance program by empowering more vulnerable and non-business populations that we do not serve through our credit-led microfinance program.
• Directly supporting households. Savings groups address some of the greatest needs for poor households by providing funds to invest in household improvements and smooth the impact of unpredictable household incomes.
• Promoting dignity. Like credit-led microfinance, savings groups are an asset-based, participatory development model that utilizes the resources and skills of group members.
• Reaching more South Sudanese. Savings groups can scale quickly since groups are self-managed, self-funded and self-replicated (through group members starting new groups or training others in their community).
Education & Spiritual Discipleship
Microfinance’s group structure serves as a platform for offering non-financial services. We utilize group meeting times to provide access to education as well as spiritual discipleship.
Poverty is not solely attributable to a lack of financial resources, but is often compounded by other factors including a lack of education. Our microloan clients attend monthly education seminars where our education supervisors facilitate discussion among clients who can share their knowledge and experience as they work through a participatory, dialogue-based curriculum. We offer a diverse education curriculum, ranging from business management training to nutrition, sanitation, personal growth and health education. The feedback from our clients has been phenomenal as many of them never received a formal education.
Seed Effect is more than an initiative to help people overcome physical poverty—we are about making disciples. Our microfinance and education programs serve as a platform to build relationships with our clients – relationships that provide us the opportunity to share the gospel and disciple believers. Since our paramount goal is for our clients to come to intimately know their Savior, we share the gospel with 100% of our clients at our orientation meetings and continue to affirm the gospel by sharing scripture and praying with our clients at every weekly or monthly meeting.
Seed Effect provides spiritual discipleship and Biblical training through monthly seminars for our microloan clients and frequent meetings between clients and our education and spiritual integration officers. Through this discipleship and training, and in partnership with the local church, we equip and encourage our clients to disciple others in the marketplace and beyond. Further, our program promotes community and accountability through self-selected loan groups that meet regularly for repayments, savings, support and fellowship.
Our indigenous team, which includes many trained South Sudanese pastors and lay church leaders, also cares intimately for our clients and their families—praying with them in their homes, encouraging them when they are suffering in the hospital, and supporting them at funerals for loved ones. With the gospel motivating and permeating our operations and the lives of our team, we seek to holistically transform the lives of our clients, their families and those in the communities we serve in the name of Jesus Christ.
Where does Seed Effect work?
South Sudan is the most fragile country in the world: conflict, corruption and cruelty have reigned for over 50 years.* Because of two back-to-back civil wars, over two million people were killed and four million were displaced as refugees. And instability persists today as fighting continues in much of the world’s newest country.
The people of South Sudan are among the poorest in the world. Just over half live in extreme poverty; the majority of the other half live barely above that. Only one percent of households have access to a bank account. Seventy-five percent of household heads have no formal education. Without the opportunities or resources to lift themselves out of poverty, the outlook for the South Sudanese is bleak.
Seed Effect is committed to working in the hard places like South Sudan where others don’t. Due to the instability and lack of infrastructure, other Christian microfinance organizations were unable to address the need in South Sudan. However, those organizations encouraged and generously assisted Seed Effect to go where they could not go to bring South Sudan micro finance.
The first Seed Effect site was launched in Kajo Keji, South Sudan in November 2009 and the second site was opened in Nimule, South Sudan in February 2012 and the third location was launched in Yei, South Sudan in June 2015. Since Seed Effect distributed its first loans to a group of 19 women in November 2009, over 2,200 clients have been served with over 5,000 small business loans totaling more than $1.3 million. During that timeframe, we have maintained a repayment rate of 99% as we promote dignity, responsibility, and community among our clients.
A team of indigenous leaders manages our programs across three locations in South Sudan. By mentoring and investing in local leaders, we seek to create a program that is managerially self-sufficient as well as develop individuals that can be transformational leaders within their community. While Seed Effect is separate from the local church, our team is staffed from the local church, thus empowering the local church body to love and serve others within their community.
*2015 Fund for Peace