To the Poorest of the Poor

The Gold Civil Society Prize, recently awarded to ETP Slovakia in Brussels for our Building Hope project, together with the donation to one of the home builders from Good Country (Dobrá krajina),are two of the reasons leading us to highlight our microloans program.

ETP is very well known for its activities in marginalized Roma communities andthese communities are recentlyalso becoming recognized for their inhabitants building their own houses. “Where do these mostly unemployed people get the money from?”, ask the skeptics.

Well, they are not a burden to the state budget, nor do they steal from others. The basic capital comes from a generous donation of the American charitable organization Habitat for Humanity,whichapproached ETP Slovakia with the offer of providing funds for a specific purpose. Thus, our Revolving Fund was created and the Microloans Program developed. The program offers zero-interest loans (with an inflation element only) to the poorest of the poor, who would otherwise be denied loans by every bank or ruined by loan sharks.

The microloans are dedicated solely for the purpose of the construction or reconstruction of homes. They are provided to clients who have participated in our financial education course, had previously learned how to save money (as part of another ETP project), and are willing to participate in the construction of their house.

Municipalities are especially helpful in giving recommendations for the selection of clients. They have also undertaken to collect the regular installments from the clients. The microloans are provided based on a trilateral contract, whose signatories are the client, the municipality and ETP Slovakia.

Construction works are carried out by the clients themselves, usually joined by their family members. ETP´s role is to provide a construction supervisor at the site.

Maximum microloans provided range from 5,000 €to 6,160 € for house construction and 1,160 € for a house reconstruction.

The sceptic may ask: “Are these microloans actually being repaid?”

The answer is ´Yes, they are.´ ETP Slovakia has been providing the microloans sincearoundthe year 2007. Since then, 541 clients have received a microloan with 254 having already fully repaid them.

Our microloans have gone towards the construction or reconstruction of family homes in seventeen Slovak municipalities from the Nitra District to Eastern Slovakia. At present, they are being especially helpful to the inhabitants of the village Rankovce in Košice – okolie region, where 3E homes– (energy saving, ecologically safe and economy efficient) -are being built.

The capital provided by Habitat for Humanity “circulates” – the repaid loans are lent again.

Project Building Hope has become very popular among the inhabitants of marginalized Roma communities. People appreciate its advantages, so the number of applications for microloans is rising. However, the basic capital of the American charity can no longer suffice so ETP Slovakia is reaching out to prospective donors and gratefully accepts all gifts (financial or in form of construction materials) for our clients.

It appears that this economical chain has links made of not only money but of growing love and equity.