Sunday, February 12, 2006

Official Description of Service - United States Peace Corps

Project Assignment: Small Enterprise Development Agent
Country: Republic of Mali, West Africa

After a competitive application process stressing applicant skills, adaptability, and cross-cultural understanding, Michael Hang was invited into Peace Corps service. He was assigned to work with a micro-finance institution as a Small Enterprise Development Agent in the West African nation of Mali.

Mr. Hang entered training on August 11, 2003, participating in an intensive ten-week program in Bamako, Mali. Language training included a combined 150 hours of French and Bambara (dominant local language in region). Cross-cultural training included 30 hours of instruction in Malian traditions and customs as preparation for community integration, and 15 hours in personal health and safety. Technical training included 65 hours on topics such as project design and management, training and consulting methods, budgeting, reporting, and appropriate technologies (IT and radio). Mr. Hang received one week of field based training in the regional capital of Segou, participating in savings awareness campaigns, radio transmissions and organizational analysis.

Mr. Hang successfully completed training and was sworn in as a Volunteer on Oct. 24, 2003. He was assigned to a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) in Banamba, a village of 8,600. The NGO, Conseils et Appui pour l’Education a la Base – Advice and Support for Basic Education (CAEB), operated a micro-finance institution targeting 25 women’s associations, which represent over 400 women. Mr. Hang’s principle activities involved conducting needs assessments, training new entrepreneurs on conducting feasibility studies, providing basic business skills training (e.g. marketing fundamentals, simple accounting) and credit analysis to small loan recipients. Mr. Hang also collaborated with municipalities to increase the different types of support to small businesses. Upon the close of his service, over 100 women entrepreneurs directly benefited from his consultations and workshops.

In addition, Mr. Hang promoted alternative income generating activities. Mr. Hang instructed three women’s associations on how to construct a fruit dryer made of locally available materials. Mr. Hang worked in collaboration with another volunteer, selected community officials and Peace Corps staff to install a community banking system (mobile bank) that provides low-income individuals access to savings and credit services in an affordable and convenient way. The mobile bank employees were taught basic accounting and offered strategies to increase savings and village participation. Working with a Water Sanitation Volunteer, Mr. Hang assisted a private group to submit a proposal for funding to the mayor’s office, requesting material assistance to implement a weekly market clean up and door-to-door trash collection.

In April of 2004, Mr. Hang led a youth camp, organized by three fellow volunteers 30 km south of Banamba. The camp was held for 6 boys and 6 girls aged 13-18 from the surrounding area. The camp featured workshops on soap making, improved mud stove construction, AIDS awareness and compost making. The kids were encouraged to teach their newfound skills to their peers. In the fall of 2004, Mr. Hang was selected to help launch solar cookers by promoting solar technologies at the community level. He also participated in the training of new Volunteers developing classes, critiquing trainee performance, and contributing to the small enterprise development pre-service training manual. All fieldwork was conducted in Bambara and French. Mr. Hang finished his service achieving a language proficiency rating of Advanced-Mid for Bambara and Intermediate-High for French.

Pursuant to section 5(f) of the Peace Corps Act, 22 U.S.C. & 2504(f), as amended, any former Volunteer employed by the United States Government following his Peace Corps service is entitled to have any period of satisfactory Peace Corps service credited for purposes of retirement, seniority, reduction in force, leave, and other privileges based on length of Government service.

This is to certify in accordance with Executive Order 1103 of April 10, 1963, that Mr. Michael Hang served successfully as a Peace Corps Volunteer. His service ended on October 28, 2005. He is eligible to be appointed as a career-conditional employee in the competitive civil service basis. His benefits under the Executive Order extend for a period of one year after termination of Volunteer service, except that the employing agency may extend the period for up to three years for a former Volunteer who enters military service, pursues studies at a recognized institution of higher learning, or engages in other activities which, in the view of the appointing agency, warrants extension of the period.

Republique du Mali

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