CRS Partners in Senegal
Partnerships are essential to all of Catholic Relief Services' activities. CRS Senegal's commitment to forming new partnerships, strengthening ongoing relationships, and continually collaborating with Caritas, local nongovernmental organizations, and village associations and farmers' groups is essential to the success of our programs.
Caritas Senegal has been officially recognized as a nongovernmental organization by the Senegalese government since 1966. Caritas puts the humanitarian projects of the Catholic Church into action. Caritas is active in community health, emergency response, construction of wells and management of natural resources, vocational training, women's empowerment and development programs, microcredit, and peace and justice.
With its vital expertise and rapport with the local population, SIDA Service is an integral CRS partner for all things medical, particularly in the HIV and AIDS domain. Grounded in the teachings of the Catholic Church, SIDA Service works to combat the spread of HIV and AIDS and to support those affected by the disease. In collaboration with SIDA Service, CRS is helping to reduce the stigma and improve the lives of people living with HIV. Food aid to HIV-positive patients is distributed through SIDA Service.
SIDA Service was started in 1992 when students in Dakar demanded information about HIV and AIDS. In 1995, a team of volunteers was organized to develop relevant activities. In 1999, SIDA Service started the Center for Health Promotion where it is based today.
Caisse Autonome pour le Renforcement des Initiatives par le Microfinance
CRS has been implementing microfinance activities in Senegal since 1989. In 1999, CRS Senegal and Caritas began the process of transferring Caisse Autonome pour le Renforcement des Initiatives par le Microfinance (CAURIE-MF) into a permanent and autonomous microfinance institution. CAURIE-MF now encompasses all of CRS' previous microfinance activities. CRS continues to provide financial and operational assistance and guidance.
CAURIE-MF's primary focus is poor women microentrepreneurs from villages and semi-urban communities who do not have access to financial services. In June 2006, CAURIE-MF launched a new savings strategy for clients that has allowed CAURIE-MF to grow its loan portfolio substantially. CRS contributed to this initiative through a $50,000 Lifeline Fund Grant.
CAURIE-MF currently operates three branches and reaches more than 13,400 women through more than 200 village banks. As of June 30, 2007, the total gross outstanding loan portfolio was $2.5 million, and client savings totaled $1.7 million.