The small-framed poster behind Gertrude was the first thing I noticed when Andrew and I shook her hand. It said “Women with balls”. After spending the day with the staff and some of the beneficiaries of Women’sTrust Inc., I realized that the quote was no joke...
The inception of Women’sTrust Inc. (WTI) is a remarkable story. Dana Dakin turned sixty, sold her second car, and used the money to start a micro-lending organization in Pokuase, Ghana. Seven years later, WTI is a vibrant organization deeply embedded into, and led by, the Pokuase community. During our office meeting every staff member (all Ghanaian except for Dana) introduced him or herself with pride and relayed their story of their work with WTI. It was apparent that the staff had ownership of WTI - it was their organization.
During our office meeting, I quickly realized that Gertrude, WTI’s Program Director, was incredibly deserving of this sign behind her desk. She has a commanding presence, and since being put on staff WTI has flourished. I appreciated that as much as Gertrude invested in WTI, WTI invested in Gertrude. WTI had secured funding for Gertrude’s continuing education; she spoke at and attended conferences about the best practices in micro-lending in West Africa and abroad. It was apparent that WTI’s investment in their staff was paying off. In the past two years WTI has tripled their size and has begun to expand their services.
There are more than 1,200 women in the Pokuase community that have received loans from WTI. As we walked around the community we met with innovative women that were incredibly proud to show us the growth they’ve experienced since receiving loans. For the women who really succeeded, they have become a part of the “Entrepreneur’s Club”. This club receives extra business training, and in return they agree to support the less fortunate in their community by providing jobs to people who do not have access to micro-loans. Micro-loans don’t normally help the poorest of the poor, but through WTI's innovative staff and community, The Entrepreneur’s Clubs addresses this problem by encouraging successful women’s business leaders to reinvest in their own community.
When William Easterly (a renown development practitioner who has visited WTI twice) dubs an organization as the best micro-finance program he’s seen in Africa, he probably knows what he’s talking about. Both Andrew and I were very impressed by WomansTrust Inc. an organization with a holistic approach to micro-lending.
If you would like to learn more about WTI please follow this link to their GlobalGiving project page: www.globalgiving.org/3818
Lorraine and four other In-the-Field Travelers are currently in Ghana before they are making their way to Mali and Burkina Faso. They'll be visiting more than 30 GlobalGiving projects in the next month. Follow their adventures at http://itfwa.wordpress.com/.
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