The Fantsuam Foundation is a rural NGO in Kafanchan, Kaduna State, seeking to promote development by focusing on sustainable livelihoods, health, and education. Where possible Fantsuam charges fees for its services, thus generating 65% of its budget through its own revenues.
Early in 2008 Glenn Dodge, a VSO volunteer sponsored by Friends of Nigeria who was working at the Fantsuam Foundation, submitted a proposal to FON to donate $1,000 to Fantsuam for use in microlending. FON was eager to support microlending and made the $1,000 donation. Glenn supplied a report describing the group of women who received the microloans and pictures of the handing-out ceremony.
In November, 2008, the current President of FON, Greg Jones, visited Fantsuam in Kafanchan. He and his wife met with VSO volunteers Glenn Dodge and Cicely Brown and with John Dada and Kazanka Comfort, the leaders of Fantsuam. As a result FON developed a special relationship with Fantsuam, donating a total of $42,305 to Fantsuam over the last eight years.
Though Fantsuam started as a microlending organization, it has expanded to do much more. Their clients are primarily women. Initially, their repayment rates were 100%, but over time the repayment rates fell to 98%, 97%, then 94%. Inquiring why some women were not repaying their loans, they discovered the women had AIDS. Their men had gone off to the big city, contracted AIDS, and infected their wives upon their return. Most of the women with AIDS were shunned by their families, so they had no support. Because it is the norm that people in Nigerian hospitals are fed by their families, being shunned meant the women were also sick and starving. In response Fantsuam opened a Women’s Health Clinic and created an AIDS support group. Fantsuam also got involved in computer training when they moved from paper records of the loans to computer accounting. Eventually, they installed solar cells to power their PCs and a battery backup system to deal with power outages. In time their training program was Cisco-certified and associated with the University of Jos.
In 2009 Partners for Development awarded Fantsuam a $250,000 loan to further expand their microlending program. This was confirmation that Fantsuam was a worthy organization. It also meant that FON support was no longer needed for microlending, but for the facilities that support microlending.
In 2011 all this changed. Vice President Goodluck Jonathan had taken over the presidency in 2010 when President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua died in office. Traditionally, northerners and southerners alternated as president. Since he had been President only for 1 ½ years, Goodluck Jonathan thought it was appropriate for him to succeed himself. He was reelected in what was considered one of the cleaner elections in 2011. But the northerners did not agree. Post-election violence ripped through the Kafanchan community. Southerners were attacked, and many places of business were burned. The market in Kafanchan was burned to the ground, and many Fantsuam microlending clients lost everything – their cash-on-hand, their inventory, and their place of business. Banks were no longer lending money, and there was the danger that no seed would be available so no crops would get planted that year.
As a result, Fantsuam shifted to disaster relief mode. They purchased metal silos to store grains and purchased grains during times when prices were low for distribution to clients during the “hungry season” when prices would be high and supplies very limited. They also initiated dialogues between leaders of different sectarian groups in hopes of preventing future violence. The immediate violence was suppressed by the army mounting 24-hour patrols.
Then disaster struck again. Six months after the initial riots, the army decided there was no further threat of violence, so they removed their patrols. Within a few weeks there were reprisal killings, and full scale riots broke out again within days. This time schools and hospitals were burned, in addition to places of business and the marketplace.
Gradually Kafanchan and Fantsuam have returned to normal. After a second round of silos and grains, in 2014 Fantsuam noticed that the incidence of water-borne diseases was quite high in Bayan Loco, the area of Kafanchan where Fantsuam is located. Fantsuam tried to shame the local government into fixing up the sewers, open pits down the middle of the streets. A FON grant was used to shore up a bridge and regrade several roads to improve passage during the rainy season. Several groups were brought together to endorse continued road and drainage improvements.
In 2015 Fantsuam expanded their computer training program by acquiring 60 thin client machines. These are being used to train secondary school students in the use of computers so that their leaving exams can now be taken on computers.
Overall the relationship with Fantsuam has been good, both for FON and for Fantsuam. Fantsuam has had a steady donor in Friends of Nigeria, and they have been able to leverage our relationship to convince other donors of their reliability. You may find the details in the links below interesting.Winter 2007-8 by Glenn Dodge
Fall 2008 by Glen Dodge
Winter 2008 by Greg Jones
Spring 2009 by Greg Jones
Summer 2009 by Kazanka Comfort
Fall 2009 by Greg Jones
Winter 2009 by Cicely Brown
Winter 2010 by Cicely Brown
Summer 2011 by Greg Jones
Winter 2011 by Greg Jones
Winter 2011 by John Dada
Spring 2012 by Greg Jones
Summer 2012 by John Dada
Spring 2013 by Greg Jones + John Dada
Winter 2014 by John Dada + Kazanka Comfort
Summer 2014 by Jim Clark