How ASAP helped over 80,000 families in Africa
Previously healthy children were passing out from hunger in school. This is what motivated ASAP to begin offering training in Savings Groups during the "decade of decline" in Zimbabwe. Until 2001, ASAP's program focused clearly on vocational training and education projects. Training in SGs gave families a way to survive and thrive during economic collapse.
ASAP's first two-year SG pilot project, funded by the McKnight Foundation in 2001, aimed to increase the income for 3,025 women - to help them feed their families. This target was surpassed by over 2,000. Joseph Miti, ASAP's Program Manager, reported proudly at the time, "There is not enough of me to go around!" The demand for the Savings Groups training was overwhelming and ASAP staff could not provide training sessions quickly enough! To read the external project impact report click here. In order help the most families as quickly and efficiently as possible during this desperate time, ASAP entered into SG project partnerships with CARE, Plan International, CRS, and Concern World Wide.
In 2005, The McKnight Foundation funded ASAP to carry out a subsequent SG project in the same area; two years after ASAP's pilot project had ended. But how many of the groups that were active in savings groups in 2003 continued to function in 2005. Surprisingly, 85% of the clubs continued to meet regularly two years after the first project had ended. To read the sustainability survey click here. Hyper-inflation made this project very challenging! Savings groups learned to save "assets" - such as sugar, salt and cooking oil - instead of the currency, which was rapidly losing value. Price controls and severe shortages of all commodities - maize meal (the staple food), sugar, fuel -were obstacles that had to be overcome. Savings groups members managed to not only survive but prosper and thrive during these desperate times.
With generous support from the New Zealand Agency for International Development and The CG Charitable Fund, ASAP integrated agriculture skills training and HIV/AIDS awareness into these SG projects each year from 2003 through 2008. Today ASAP in Zimbabwe continues to offer IS&L training to other local organizations and groups throughout Zimbabwe. ASAP's partnership with Plan International has expanded, reaching out to improve lives for families and children nationwide.
In 2009 ASAP replicated our program into the southern region of Malawi. The 'Chimvano Pa Chuma' (Unity for Economic Growth) project to enhance the household and food security of over 7,000 families. Cordaid, FIMA, The International Foundation & Sundance Pay It Forward Foundation invested in ASAP's program replication in Malawi. ASAP also established a partnership with Total Land Care, a Malawi based organization affiliated to Washington State University, to integrate agricultural skills with SG cost effectively. Today ASAP in Malawi is an active partner in the Malawi Microfinance Network.