Women's Microfinance Initiative

Started by women in the Washington, D.C. area, WMI makes loans to impoverished women in developing nations who have no access to banks. Issuing affordable, collateral-free loans for as little as $50, WMI promotes women's economic empowerment to reduce global poverty. WMI's goal is to help poor women build assets to stabilize their income, improve their familiy's living standard, become advocates for their families/communities, and transition into independent banking and the formal economy.

Women's Microfinance Initiative
8609 Fenway Drive
Bethesda, MD 20818
United States
301 520 0865
http://www.wmionline.org

President

Robyn G. Nietert

Management Team

Kathy Staudaher

Board of Directors

Elizabeth Gordon Vice President, Beatrix van der Vossen Board Member, Teresa Ciccotelli Secretary, Deborah W. Smith Treasurer, June Kyakobye Board Member, Robyn G. Nietert President, Jane E. Erickson Vice President, Kathy Staudaher

Project Leaders

Robyn Nietert

Mission

Started by women in the Washington, D.C. area, WMI makes loans to impoverished women in developing nations who have no access to banks. Issuing affordable, collateral-free loans for as little as $50, WMI promotes women's economic empowerment to reduce global poverty. WMI's goal is to help poor women build assets to stabilize their income, improve their familiy's living standard, become advocates for their families/communities, and transition into independent banking and the formal economy.

Programs

WMI provides village-level access to credit, training and support for poor, rural women to develop their own enterprises and establish solid financial track records. WMI's model ( unique among other micro-lenders) transitions borrowers from local microfinance into mainstream banking after 24-months - harnessing their business success in the WMI loan program to command competitive rates and conditions from institutional financial service providers. Demonstrating our borrowers "bankability" reduces risk, which increases interest from more traditional banks to access these new customers and begin to penetrate rural markets. By providing training/education, support and credit in areas with limited-to-no banking services, WMI promotes women's economic participation in poor, rural areas of Eastern Africa. In addition to income generation, borrowers accumulate assets, improve household living standards, and spur local economic development by hiring employees and creating community wealth. WMI's comprehensive loan program, The Transition to Independent Banking Program, offers impoverished, rural women four successive interest-bearing, six-month term business loans (collateral free), ranging from $50-$250, in a highly structured environment. Borrowers in 20-member solidarity groups cross-guarantee each other's loans. They receive skills/ business training, peer mentoring, on-going technical support and on-site follow up. WMI works with each borrower to prepare a simple business plan that provides a roadmap to reach her economic goal. Group activities allow the women to practice business promotion skills/techniques. WMI provides notebooks, pencils and calculators so the women can track of their business finances. Local Coordinators visit all of the borrowers on a rotating basis, assisting them with book keeping and solving business problems. Bi-weekly loan collections are funneled to the head coordinator who makes the bank deposit or to a mobile banking van provided by the banking partner. After 24 months, WMI borrowers have developed a solid track record of business operations and financial management and transition to bank loans issued by WMI's partner banks. WMI continues to provide training and support services. The funds repaid to WMI by graduating borrowers are then recycled to provide loans to first-time borrowers entering the program, making the program self-sustaining. Each WMI loan hub location is administered on the ground by the borrowers through a registered community based organization (CBO). Loan interest supports all local operating expenses.

Statistics on Women's Microfinance Initiative

Financial Statistics

  • Annual Budget for 2014: $200,000
  • Annual Budget for 2008: $58,000
  • Maximum Annual Budget: $200,000
  • Other funding sources: Individual Donations and Foundation Grants
  • Religious Affiliation: none
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