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Market Fire Disaster - Microentrepreneurs’ Doomsday in CAMEROON

Tuesday 09, March 2010 was one of the darkest days for microfinance, confirming the worst fears of the uninsured market traders of the Tiko Main Market in the South West Region of Cameroon as fire consumed the entire Tiko Market and rendering to ruins the conjested sheds, stores, mini shops and the wares of close to seven thousand micro entrepreneurs who had for years been struggling to pave their way out of poverty.

This unenviable contretemps occurred at about 7 pm on that fateful day shortly after the market had closed its gates for the day. On lookers helplessly watched in vain, mourning and commotion as the flames ravaged the entire market. This situation was made worse by the absence of the fire brigade service in this part of the country.
The exact cause of the fire is not yet confirmed but speculations have it that electrical failure may be at the heart of this.

The Tiko Market is a 6 minutes drive from Buea (the head office of Oasis Microfinance). Oasis has many clients who also trade in the Tiko market.
This has resulted in an unanticipated increase in demand for loans from Oasis.
Oasis has decided to reschedule the loans of clients who were directly hit by this disaster and also to redesign and provide emergency solidarity group loans with standard features of 500 Euros per entrepreneur, a 12 month repayment period and a grace period of 4 weeks to these entrepreneurs where their only collateral will be the group’s joint liability.
On behalf of these unfortunate entrepreneurs, i Abilabonga R. Nkeze - CEO of Oasis Microfinance do make a solemn plea to all social investors to take a special interest in the micro projects of these people. We may be their only hope to give them an opportunity again to provide food, medical care and education to their seemingly hopeless families.
You can change their lives again by referring to the Lending page and contribute to these group projects.
One very important lesson learnt from this ugly incidence is the importance of micro insurance facilities.

The following are pictures taken of the ruins of the Tiko Market by the Oasis team that visited the site. Unfortunately at the time of our arrival, the market authorities had sealed the main gates into the market, and so we could only take pictures from the gates.
The first picture is that of Abilabonga R. Nkeze at the main entrance to the market.
Burnt Tiko Market - Main entranceimg_0267

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