Women's Global Empowerment Fund provides microfinance and educational opportunities to women recovering from brutal violence and poverty in post conflict northern Uganda. While microfinance can be an effective tool to alleviate extreme poverty, when bundled with social capital building programs it can be revolutionary. It is this belief behind the Credit Plus model which focuses on three areas in addition to the loan program: Literacy, Leadership Development and Health.
WGEF was founded in 2007, becoming fully operational in 2008, opening an office in Gulu, Uganda serving the women of the community returning from many years in the IDP camps, abduction and hopelessness. To date WGEF has given over 3000 loans; average loan size is $45, 400+ women have participated in our literacy program, and 5 clients ran for political office with 3 successfully winning their races. In addition to our literacy program, we have extensive leadership development opportunities, quarterly health initiatives and a yearly drama festival where women work in teams to present dramas, songs and dances to the community focusing on inequality and challenges.
In 2010, we introduced our agro loan program. To date we have give 180 agro loans with 100% success rate, creating increased food security and small/medium women farmers.
Our strategy is to provide women with the framework necessary to create viable opportunities for themselves and their families. Through grassroots strategies, marginalized women are given the tools necessary to alleviate poverty thus facilitating sustainable development and empowerment. Our goal is to work for social justice and increased human security.
Grace, a WGEF client wrote the following letter:
My name is Grace, 29 years old, I have 3 children and a member of Kwo Aye Lonyo women group, I joined WGEF in 2008 and together with my members we have received 5 loan cycles. I sell fruits in the market and do some agriculture for home consumption. It was my first time to join any loan program and I feel preveraged to be part of the WGEF. I receive only 80,000shs $40 as my first loan which I invested in fruits as of now I have 300,000 $160 in my capital which I have raised through my saving and profits. I m so happy that I can now read and write my name an opportunity which I lost when I was young but when WEGF opened the free literacy program I was among the first one to register.
I was among the many girls who were abducted by Joseph Kony’s Rebels LRA and I spent 8 years with them in busy I was brutally beaten, forced to carry heavy loads and was forced to kill one of the girls whom we were abducted with using a stick imagine! I was raped and forced to sleep with many rebels to the extent that I don’t know the fathers of my 2 beautiful kids whom I came back with after being rescued by government forces.
My lucky day was when I mate Prisca who was already in the program she told me that if we form a group of 5 members she can introduce us to the office and we will be supported, I couldn’t believe in myself not until I saw her group when they were attending a training with Bukenya who did not know acholi language but was struggling to make everyone understand and was encouraging those who failed I remember him telling women try again you will make it then I felt somehow confident. We formed my group that day we did not have money for taking our photos but Bukenya used his camera and we agreed to start the training then next week, for 3 weeks we were done and received our loan of 400,000 $200 for a group for 3 month.
After repaying our first loan I realized to have saved 12,000 $8 it was my first achievement in my life and it made me to believe in myself, we requested for the second loan until now we are still getting loans and training from the program.
My 2 children are schooling and I pay for their requirements, I rent for myself, I have bought 2 goats and rearing local chicken, now my relatives loves me and I m staying with a man all this I was able to get it after joining the program I love the program and I wish if the program can extend to villages and reach more women since now many have shifted back and I would like to continue attending Literacy training for higher levels.
Thank you for the opportunity to share with you, by the way this is an achievement to me I used to fear to share but now I will never be silent again.
Member Kwo Aye lonyo
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