Educate the Children (ETC) has met - and even slightly surpassed - our goal of raising $42,500 to help impoverished women in rural Nepal to start their own small businesses.
We are delighted to report that, because of you and your support, 800 or more women have already taken out microloans to enable them to start or expand their businesses. We anticipate that, before the end of our program year on June 30, the total number of women will grow to more than the 832 we had anticipated. The extra few hundred dollars we raised, over and above the goal amount, will help ensure that all women who wish to take out loans will be able to do so.
As I've mentioned in previous reports, most of these businesses are agricultural in nature. Goat and chicken farms are especially popular, because they provide nutritious milk and eggs as well as meat; however, the costs of buying the animals, creating proper housing for them, and feeding them would be too high for the women to afford without the support of people like you and organizations like ETC. Fruit, vegetable, and flower farms are also popular. Some women have chosen to start small retail and hospitality establishments, such as tea shops, craft businesses, and even inns.
All of the women have worked very hard to make their businesses thrive. They are proud of their achievements and of their ability to support their families, and we are proud of them too.
We hope that you are as pleased as we are with the success of our project to help women start their own businesses - we truly could not have done it without you!
If you are interested in learning more about what we do, and willing to consider supporting another of our effective and important programs, please click on the links below to read about our Sustainable Agriculture activities - and particularly our Agriculture in Schools program! These are part of our integrated approach to improving the quality of life in rural Nepal, where food insecurity and malnutrition are sadly common.
All of us at ETC offer you our best wishes for a happy and healthy 2013!
Dear Friends of ETC:
We are pleased to report that our project to help women in rural Nepal start their own small businesses continues to flourish, thanks to YOU!
ETC supports 42 women's groups (total membership: 843) in rural Dolakha, Nepal. Groups hold monthly meetings and are now forming into legally recognized cooperatives, each comprised of several geographically contiguous groups. Cooperatives are the structures that will endure long after ETC's time in this part of Dolakha is finished. As mentioned in previous reports, group members have already been trained in basic literacy and numeracy, and in important business practices such as how to set appropriate prices for their goods and services, how to track income and expenses, etc.
During the first quarter of our 2012/13 program year (July 1 - September 30, 2012), the microcredit funds controlled by the women's groups grew by nearly 9%. All women's group members contribute on a monthly basis to their groups' funds, even if they can manage only a few pennies. Total funds under the women's groups' management exceed $29,000 at the present exchange rate - and keeping in mind that the Nepalese rupee is presently quite weak, and that the cost of living in rural Nepal is very low, $29,000 is a very substantial amount of money!
Since we began working in Dolakha a few years ago, more than 750 women have taken out small loans for "income-generating activities," meaning that these funds have enabled them to start or expand their small businesses. During the first quarter of this program year, 537 women took out loans; more than three-quarters of all these loans supported livestock farming. Goat and chicken farms are especially popular, because they produce milk and eggs as well as meat. Also popular are small retail establishments and tea shops, and semi-commercial vegetable farms. The latter result in income of about $33 per woman per growing cycle, which doesn't sound like much to you and me, but when you consider that most families have been living on a few dollars per day at most (and sometimes on a dollar or less per day), $33 goes a very long way indeed!
As always, the on-time loan repayment rate is extremely high, and the default rate is virtually zero.
The skills and confidence these women have gained is translating into other areas of their lives as well. Not only are they successful entrepreneurs, they are also becoming community leaders. Dozens of women have become engaged in school management committees, rural economic development agencies, and other civic organizations, often in decision-making roles. This would have been unthinkable for them before ETC arrived in their villages and helped them to believe in and develop their own potential.
Thank you again for your vitally important support of this life-changing project. On behalf of all of us at ETC, I want to wish you and your families a very happy holiday season.
Sincerely, Lisa Lyons, Executive Director (U.S.)
Dear Friend of ETC:
Our 2011/2012 program year concluded on June 30, and we are delighted to report that our activities to promote women's empowerment through entrepreneurship have changed hundreds of lives for the better!
ETC works intensively with residents of a limited geographic area for six years. After five years, we begin to phase out our involvement; by the end of the sixth year, the programs are fully managed and supported locally. The recently completed program year was our fourth in the rural Dolakha district of eastern Nepal, working in numerous contiguous villages that are accessible only by hiking three or more hours from the nearest larger towns.
ETC continues to support 42 women's groups with a total of nearly 850 members. Groups hold monthly meetings and have begun the process of forming into legally recognized cooperatives - the structure that will endure and enable the good work to continue long after ETC's time in this part of Dolakha is finished. Previously, group members had been trained in basic literacy and numeracy, and in basic business practices such as how to set appropriate prices for their goods and services.
In 2011/2012, the microcredit funds controlled by the women's groups grew by 48% over the course of the year. Women contribute on a monthly basis to their groups' funds, even if they can afford no more than a few pennies. Nearly 500 group members took out small loans of about $50 on average during 2011/2012, to enable them to start or expand their small businesses, with goat and poultry farming accounting for the majority of all loans (385 total loans). Other purposes included starting or expanding semi-commercial vegetable gardens (78 loans) and small shops and inns (22 loans).
During the past three years, as many as 750 women have taken out and repaid loans to enable them to start (and in many cases later expand) their own small businesses. The on-time repayment rate is typically extremely high, since the loan program is managed by peers.
Related activities during the past year included four gender equity training events, which drew a total attendance of 92 women and their spouses. The goal of these events is to improve the relations between men and women, and the treatment of female children within families and broader communities. A notable and consistent result of these events is that participants (male and female alike) are increasingly supportive of pay equity for women, whose wages typically lag far behind those for men even for comparable duties.
We are so proud of these women, who are working amazingly hard to make better lives for themselves and their families. And we are deeply grateful to you for making it possible. Please accept this heartfelt "Thank you!" from all of us at ETC.
With best wishes,
During my visit in Dolakha I found the Aaltareng women’s group meeting up on the hillside. Despite the busy planting season, every single member of the group had showed up for the monthly meeting. One woman even attended with a very young set of twins! In addition to the Aaltareng group members, some women from a nearby women’s group showed up to observe and learn new practices. It was wonderful to see that the women are so engaged and committed to their groups, and the network they are building seems very strong.
At the start of the meeting, the treasurer collected the monthly savings from each member. At this particular meeting, the women decided to increase their monthly savings from 50 rupees to 60 rupees so that their overall savings would increase. After loan interest was also collected, the group had several thousand rupees in hand, and they voted on how they should distribute the money as new loans. Everything was done democratically and transparently, and all of the money transactions were recorded by the secretary. After the money was dealt with, the women began talking about school and the importance of staying involved in children’s educations. The 'community mobilizer' suggested that the mothers attend parents’ meetings and monitor their children’s progress. ETC promotes a well-rounded strategy to community improvement by supporting women and schools. While roaming the village I saw several schools that ETC has supported as well.
The women’s empowerment program that Educate the Children runs is six years long, and during the fifth year the group registers as a cooperative with the government. ETC prepares the groups so that they can be sustainable when ETC support runs out. While the Aaltareng group was having their monthly meeting, two other groups were attending an ETC sponsored training about becoming a cooperative. The room was packed with women and their small children, and everyone was engaged with the passionate instructor. Neela, a women's empowerment officer, explained the success of their other trainings, such as health trainings, sanitation, and kitchen garden care.
After a busy day of meetings and trainings, I visited a small commercial farm owned by a member of the local women’s group. The farm was started with a loan from the group as an income generation project. The farm grows off-season vegetables that bring in several thousand rupees each year. The women was so proud as she gave me a tour of the farm. ETC supports other income generation projects like small poultry farming and goat raising. The skills, extra income, and empowerment that these women receive by being part of a women’s group seems undeniable, and it was inspiring to meet so many women benefiting from ETC’s support!
If someone had told me a year ago that a mere $50 could mean the difference between remaining in poverty and the chance at a better life, I don't know if I would have taken that claim very seriously.
Since joining ETC in late 2011, however, I have come to understand just how powerful and life-changing a small amount of money can be, for hundreds of women in rural Dolakha, Nepal.
ETC supports 42 women's groups in Dolakha, which have a combined total of more than 850 members. These women were almost all illiterate and living in grave poverty, often suffering from food shortage and malnutrition. Since ETC's arrival in Dolakha in 2008, they have learned to read, write, and do basic math. They have also received the resources and support they need to start and expand their own small businesses.
The women's groups control a total of more than $28,000 in savings assets, which they loan out to fellow group members. The average loan size is just under $50. In the past year and a half, hundreds of women have taken out and repaid business loans. The most popular types of small business for which start-up and expansion loans are requested are goat and poultry farms, accounting for more than 75% of all loan purposes.
A woman with a thriving small business can afford to feed her family more nutritious food and can ensure that all of her children are able to attend school. Moreover, she feels a significant sense of pride in her new-found abilities and achievements.
By supporting ETC's Women's Empowerment Program, you have helped to ensure that hundreds of women have gained the skills and confidence to improve their own lives and those of their families.
From all of us at ETC: Thank you for your generosity!
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