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,
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