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Kokolopori Micro-Credit Benefit Set on April 19

The concept of micro-credit policy now popular across the globe is predicated on the notion of one of its founders in Bangladesh in 1974 that “the reason many people live in poverty is not because they are lazy or lack skills, but because they lack access to capital with which to start or grow a business.”

Citizens in the City of Falls Church are now organizing to establish a $15,000 micro-credit fund for the region in a rainforest deep inside the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) known as Kokolopori. The effort has grown out of the formalization of “Sister City” ties between Falls Church and Kokolopori in Feburary 2006. It is the only such relationship that exists with any community in the DRC to date.

A reception to celebrate and grow the fund will be held next week at the International Monetary Fund building in Washington, D.C., and Falls Church citizens and their friends are encouraged to attend and support the effort. It will be from 6 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, April 19.

Citizens of Kokolopori are described as “on the frontlines of rainforest and great ape conservation, and they urgently want to save their lands and wildlife for future generations. By supporting Kokolopori residents’ health, education and economic development priorities, people are also helping to protect globally significant rainforests and biodiversity.”

The Kokolopori Bonobo Reserve is an area three times the size of Fairfax County and with a population twice the size of the City of Falls Church, just over 20,000.

The Falls Church-Kokolopori Sister City arrangement is done in collaboration with the Bonobo Conservation Initiative, an international non-profit conservation organization dedicated to protecting the most endangered species of great ape, the bonobo.

The micro-credit project for the Kokolopori region will be operated by a women’s cooperative there called Reseau des Femmes Pour Developpment de Djolu, located in thw town of Djolu about 50 minutes from the Kokolopori region. Groups of women in the Kokolopori area will be invited to propose business plans to the women’s cooperative to initiate enterprises such as sewing, soap making, woodworking and the establishment of small shops. All members of the cooperative, under the arrangement, are responsible as a group for repaying the loans, which helps the high payback rate of almost 95% in such programs.

More information on next week’s reception is available at www.kokolopori-partnership.org.