|Group Pic: CBG, RFP, Nema/PIWAMP, LHDP, GYIN Gambia|
In 1990 a loans scheme (supported by Standard Chartered Bank Ltd and the woman’s World Bank (WWB) was launched to provide greater access to credit for women. In 1994 however, due to the quite poor repayment rates, GAWFA made it a condition that customers had to save money before they were allowed access to funds. It also introduced a program of group lending. These changes subsequently resulted in a to a near 100% improvement in repayment rates.
In 1997 GAWFA became the initial microfinance institution to be granted a license to operate as a Savings and Credit Company by the Central Bank of Gambia. This was in line with the 1992 Financial Institutions Act and is targeted at rural and urban areas.
At the end of 2010 GAWFA had a total membership of 49,000 with over 14,000 active borrowers on their files. Over 95% of those that the company lends money to are women who wish to pursue various business enterprises.
Its membership services includes non-financial assistance such as training for capacity building via its affiliated partners and related organisations.
In January 2010 the GAWFA was instructed by the Central Bank to set up a finance company, with shares, to take over its financial services activities and other products and services are integrated savings and credit scheme, business and other activities, and the voluntary savings scheme.