About The Letta Project
In August, 2001, IAP established a micro-loan program, which serves the Gedeo region of Ethiopia, called the Letta Micro-Finance Institute. The Letta project disburses small loans, primarily to women, who receive training in banking and business, equipping them for financial independence. Currently, most of these new business owners are involved in food and commodity trading. Each client is a testimony to the success of the micro-finance project. These beautiful entrepreneurs and their families are given the opportunity to prosper financially, which in turn positively effects the surrounding community and church.
2011 was the year Letta MFI became sustainable! This means enough loans are distributed so that the interest coming in from those loans are now covering 100% of Letta’s administrative fees. Letta MFI is now profitable and sustainable! This is a huge milestone as profits earned can now be used to cover capital expenses and grow additional loanable fund. Letta leadership has a vision of servicing 10,000 loans in the not to distant future. In 2018, the Yirgacheffe Coffee Union purchased 51% of Letta MFI so this goal of serving the Gedeo people in perpetuity is being realized. Lives are being changed!
Why the name Letta?
There are over 80 languages or dialects spokane in Ethiopia today. The Gedeo people use an agricultural term, Letta, which translates “emerging toward the light”, as a seed germinates and breaks forth from the ground. This image is personified in the character and stories coming out of this loan program. Entire family trees are being changed as families emerge from the grip of generational poverty by establishing and growing a small business.
Typical Loan Size
Loans are approximately $300 USD or 7,000 Ethiopian Birr. Letta MFI's aims to serve over 10,000 loan recipients.
Types of Business Startup
Coffee Farming, Calf-Fattening, Commodity Shops, Hair Design, Sewing, Jewelry & Clothing Sales, Local Food Production and more
Loans are paid back annually with an option to renew the loan, if needed for sustained growth or expansion of the family business.
Loan clients pay interest commensurate with the national banking standard. Interest earned provides additional loanable funds and pays for the operation of the microloan program.
Loan Approval Standards
Since most applicants do not have a FICO score or credit report, loan officers rely on a recommendation from community elders and loan clients who have a good repayment history in the program.
Benefits of Loan Program
Business profits are vital, in providing food, clothing and shelter to families. Children are receiving education and parents are able to tithe to the local church and participate in social events such as weddings, funerals and festivals.