The Development Initiatives (DEVIN) is one of the pioneer micro credit scheme operators in the Niger Delta region. The organization operated several oil companies’ funded micro credit schemes in the region. It commenced the implementation of credit schemes with the Eleme and Ebubu communities’ Micro Credit Schemes between 1999 and 2000. The schemes which flagged off Shell Petroleum Development Company’s foray into the then uncertain micro credit programmatic intervention in oil bearing communities, was hugely successful in terms of administering credit, loan recovery (100%), small business growth, poverty reduction and capacity building. Overtime the success of the scheme and others propelled DEVIN and its partners, to expand the micro credit scheme into other communities of the region.
The Development Initiatives has over the years been building the capacities of NGOs as well as mentoring them in micro credit administration and management. One of such engagements was through a UNDP/UNIFEM/Japanese Government funded pilot project on women economic empowerment in Ikwere LGA of Rivers State, where DEVIN trained and certified seventeen (17) NGOs and other civil society organizations in Rivers State in February 2007. These organizations will implement and ensure the sustainability of the micro credit component of the programme and other such schemes they may implement.
Presently, DEVIN has adopted the Village Savings and Loan Association framework (VSLA) to implement the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Company funded Micro Credit scheme in over 100 communities in Rivers State of Nigeria. The communities cut across the Upland and Riverine Spreads. It may be needful to recall that the basic principle of the VSL system is that members of a self-selected group voluntarily form a VSL Association (VSLA) or Accumulated Savings and Credit Associations (ASCAs) and save money in the form of shares. The savings are invested in a Loan Fund from which members can borrow, repaying with a service charge added. The primary purpose of a given ASCA is to provide simple savings and loan facilities, in a community that does not have access to formal financial services. Loans can also provide a form of self-insurance to members, supplemented by a Social Fund which provides small but important grants to members in distress. Associations are autonomous and self-managing. This is fundamental because an ASCA’s goal is institutional and financial independence. The Development Initiatives (DEVIN) welcomes partnership with institutions and funders who are committed to realizing sustainable micro finance initiatives that would lead to poverty reduction.