The Tau Yu Mai Fund is committed to improving the quality of life of poor women and their families by implementing a unique banking system. It will consistently provide women with opportunities to improve their socio-economic status. TYM encourages women to form savings groups, participate in productive activities to increase their income and savings and improve technical and entrepreneurial skills while upholding the values of discipline, unity and hard work.
The Fund targets communes where 50% of the population live below the poverty line. For a woman to be eligible for a TYM membership, her average income per month must be equal to or less than US$ 5 (VND 70,000) and the total value of the household assets must be equal to or less than US$1,072 (VND 15,000,000). *
TYM is currently operating in 47 communes in Ha Noi, Vinh Phuc, Hung Yen, Ham Dinh and Nghe An provinces. As of May 2001, TYM has 11,881 members organized into 385 centers in 9 branches. Of these 9 branches, 3 have reached break even point and 3 are financially viable. TYM plans to open 2 more branches in the third quarter of 2001. The Fund provides its members with general loans, mid-term loans, seasonal loans, multi-purpose loans and a new special loan for long-term members who want to start small businesses. With a repayment rate of 99.74%, TYM has loans of 14,380,528,300 VND outstanding.
The attendance at the weekly meetings is high because of the capability of the staff in organizing and managing their work, and the members' willingness to follow discipline and regulations of the organizations.
TYM prides itself on the knowledge and capacity of its staff who have all been involved with TYM for a few years. Staff training is a major concern especially for the expansion period. In 2000, TYM Fund collaborated with the local Women's Union to conduct training on agricultural extension for 50 trainers and 4,000 members; training on gender awareness was also provided to 2,000 local leaders and staff from all the operating areas.
TYM's success is reflected in the impact on social and economic aspects. It has promoted the capacity of poor farmers and helped them to improve their businesses and generate assets for their families. TYM's loans to poor women have contributed to minimize the predominance of usurious moneylenders in the rural areas.
Women have gained respect from their families and the community because of their involvement with TYM. They strictly follow credit discipline, savings and repayment practices, regularly attend meetings and implement income generating activities. The different center activities have attracted women towards decision-making and contributing ideas: a sure step toward further empowerment. They have ably led groups and centers and with their newly acquired leadership skills, have participated in community activities.
TYM has also provided employment for young graduates from the universities and colleges in the area. According to its institutional action plan, TYM is aiming to have 15 branches within 2002, with 25,000 members, 150 staff. By that year, 70% of its branches will become financially viable. The TYM management board will continue looking into the legal measures necessary for the institutionalization of TYM into a formally organized National Fund for Poor Women in Vietnam.
The Best Thing for Ms Phan Thi Hoa !
Ms Phan Thi Hoa is a member of TYM in the Hung Nguyen district of Nghe An Province. Her husband, a war veteran, had died, leaving her with their two children to bring up. Although she worked hard as a laborer, her wages were hardly enough to support herself and her two children. Having no collateral, she was unable to take out loans to become self-employed. TYM was her only option.
She was eligible for membership and with her first loan she bought two piglets and seven chicken. She raised them, while continuing to sell her labor for weekly amortization. After eight months of fattening the animals, she sold the two pigs. She used the surplus to reinvest in more pigs and send her two children to school. She used her second loan to expand her livestock, raising ducks as well as chicken and pigs. On her third and fourth loan cycles, she continued with this activity and her economic situation improved significantly. She repaired her house and her pig-sty. Most notably, she was able to finance her children's education; they are now studying in teacher's training and military colleges.
In 1999, she was nominated the best member of Hung Nguyen branch, and selected to represent 1400 members of her branch on a study tour at CARD, Philippines. During the interview with project staff, she was effusive and emotional about her gratitude to the Vietnam Women's Union and TYM for their support. Her only option turned out to be the best thing for her!
* US $ 1 = VND 14,000