In order to rebuild communities and restore lives, families must have a chance to break the cycle of poverty and dependence on outside assistance. The goals of SFL’s community development initiatives are sustainability, independence, and self-sufficiency, all of which are difficult to accomplish without financial stability. SFL offers creative economic development programs that give families a chance to receive training, earn income, and launch new small businesses.
One of SFL’s most successful programs is based on a game that is common throughout Central Asia in which people contribute money into a collection and each month someone “wins” the funds. SFL uses this concept of Chornya Kassa, which translated figuratively means “money for a rainy day,” to help people start new businesses. Twelve families contribute money each month to a fund and SFL matches the amount and provides business and finance lessons at monthly meetings. Using these funds, one family is able to launch a new business enterprise each month with the support of community members and technical assistance from SFL. Families have expanded agricultural production, purchased livestock, started small retail ventures, and initiated other creative enterprises within their community.
SFL information session on micro-loans for women in Tajikistan
SFL also offers a variety of vocational training and employment opportunities that help families reestablish livelihoods and earn income to support their families. Projects are designed to build local capacity whenever possible. For example, instead of purchasing construction materials from a large manufacturer, SFL will train local men in carpentry, hire them to produce doors and windows, and then use the materials in new shelter projects. In order to benefit the local economy, SFL employs from within the community and purchases materials locally whenever available.