In a January 2009 trip to Uganda, WMI Board Member Trix Vandervossen and I visited many of the borrowers in the WMI loan program and also issued another round of loans. We have much good news to report!
At the end of March, WMI will have 200 borrowers and all of their businesses are thriving. We toured individual business operations and talked and ate with virtually every borrower in the program. They are so proud of their progress. Many of them showed us their records and were extremely proud of their book keeping. They are using their profits to buy medicine, pay school fees, improve their households and expand their businesses. Entire families help with the businesses the women have created. Most are requesting even larger follow up loans every 6 moths to expand their businesses. The women were clearly self-confident and determined to succeed.
WMI is concentrating on expanding the loan program to first time borrowers in near-by villages so that the cycle of poverty can be broken for more and more women in rural Uganda. WMI broke ground on a small building in the villages it serves, and with this permanent home WMI will be able to increase its lending operations. WMI borrowers reside in over a dozen villages and will hopefully spread throughout the entire Sironko District in 2009.
WMI still maintains a 100% loan repayment rate. For these women, their word is their bond, and they have honored their pledge to repay and to cross-guarantee each other's loans.
The enormous effectiveness of microloans in combating chronic poverty is clearly visible throughout Buyobo, Uganda. It is a humbling experience to be welcomed into the lives of the women of Buyobo and to be part of a program that is changing the face of poverty one loan at a time.
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