SEAM stands for South East Asia Microfinance Development. This has been established in NZ by a small group of people to help financially impoverished people in South East Asia to establish or develop their business ideas.
On a brief teaching visit to Kalaymyo (in north west Myanmar) in 2011 Rose saw the poverty there and was asked by people if we could help. We realised that with just a little help, many people could improve their lives significantly.
As economically deprived people have no assets they are unable to borrow money from banks. Local money lenders will lend at an exorbitant 15~20% per day, which means borrowers make little profit.
They are the margins of society people who are unable to participate in the consumer economy, but would be able to apply for loans at low interest from SEAM.
SEAM seeks to help the people who subsist at the bottom of the social structure in a country that only recently joined the world economy. It wants to encourage people who can establish a business that will provide for their family by growing their small business.
SEAM Development has paid staff in Myanmar and a small team of unpaid supporters in NZ. In Myanmar SEAM employs 4 staff.
1. Client Managers – meets with the Enquirers to explain how SEAM lending operates and after making loans, Client Manager supports the Clients throughout the loan period. They receive and receipt money that Clients are borrowing, repaying or saving before passing it on to the Financial Manager to bank.
2. Financial manager – Banks all money and keeps detailed records of the loans made and returned. He also records the Clients savings, which are kept in different bank in a savings account for which Clients gain interest at bank rates.
SEAM staff do not advertise. Most new clients are introduced by present clients, or approach us in the market. The loan process can happen rapidly from enquiry to agreeing to loans
• Enquirers – people introduced by present Clients who want to know more about the SEAM loans
• Clients – Small business people who have joined SEAM and borrowed money. They remain in regular contact with SEAM Client Manager who helps to coach the Client to improve their business and ensure processes are followed
They can join the SEAM team in NZ, or there is opportunity to donate regularly. SEAM management are in process to apply for charitable status. It is a chance for people far away to contribute towards a self-help scheme that empowers people to escape from the poverty cycle. Supporters see what a difference even a little help makes.
All donation go directly to the project overseas. There are no local administration costs in sending support to the project. All administration here is done by volunteers.