During his recent trip to four African countries for discussions with political and financial leaders, IMF Managing Director Rodrigo de Rato also met with civil society organizations. In one case, in particular, the meeting was rather unusual. In a village on the outskirts of Niamey in Niger, de Rato visited the Women’s Dairy Cattle Project, a nongovernmental organization of women who raise cows for milk production.
With children watching from the sidelines, the village leaders told de Rato about purchasing the cows with micro-financing from the government. The small-scale lending had been made possible by debt relief provided through the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative of the IMF and the World Bank.
The cows—a striking breed with beautiful semicircular horns—provide a source of income for the women’s families that also allows them to repay their microfinance loans. De Rato told members of the dairy cattle project that the IMF would be donating 10 cows to the women through its Civic Grant Program.