AMK is an innovative leader in the microfinance industry. Several creative projects are underway and this blog post will feature one in particular: the Special Interest Group Unit (SIGU). SIGU was developed as an initiative to further reflect AMK’s mission, and to serve more ‘vulnerable’ groups that are currently underserved by microfinance services. These vulnerable groups include women who are victims of trafficking, domestic violence and other gender-based traumas, people living with HIV/AIDS, street people and children and people with disabilities.

AMK is currently focusing on assisting women who are victims of trafficking, domestic violence and other gender-based traumas. Current SIGU projects include developing microfinance specific financial literacy training and creating a pilot credit program specific to this population. AMK is not aware of any other MFI in the world that has demonstrated a commitment to this challenging client base.

AMK is looking to partner with after-care organizations that incorporate vocational training initiatives as a part of the reintegration process. For the subset of clients that wish to start their own businesses, AMK can administer a small loan program which will provide the necessary start-up capital for these entrepreneurs. A partnership approach to a credit pilot with an after-care organization is essential to ensure that the client is being supported emotionally as well as financially. SIGU’s first official partner is with Hagar Cambodia (http://www.hagarcambodia.org/), and additional partnerships are in the works.

AMK is also designing a training seminar to complement the existing financial education provided by after-care organizations. The goal of this training is to provide clients with accurate information about microfinance and to help familiarize clients with terminology and concepts that will benefit them in the future whether or not they ever take a loan from a microfinance bank.

On 1st August 2009, the AMK Special Interest Group (SIGU) was selected as a new partner for the Sorenson / Unitus Ultra Poor Initiative. The goal of the Sorenson / Unitus Ultra Poor Initiative (“UPI”) – a joint initiative between the Sorenson Legacy Foundation and Unitus, Inc. – is to stimulate the microfinance industry to design and deliver products and services that sustainably elevate the ultra poor to a higher standard of living. UPI partners receive hands-on technical assistance, strategic guidance, and funding either to initiate new ultra poor programs or to accelerate the growth and efficacy of existing programs. The UPI does not endeavor to launch its own ultra poor program, nor does it endorse one particular operating model or philosophy; rather, it exists to promote and execute diverse solutions to reach and serve the critical needs of the poorest of the poor. AMK is very grateful for generous financial and technical support provided by Unitus. Additional fundraising initiatives are under way.

The SIGU team is excited to make our initial loans this month!

Katie Davis,
SIGU Coordinator

Contact: sigu@amkcambodia.com

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