Empower 500 Women in Ghana with Microcredit Loans

by Self-Help International
Ayishetu in front of her partly completed house
Ayishetu in front of her partly completed house

Through micro loans, Ayishetu, a beneficiary of the SHI micro-loans program is able to change her social status; lives a decent life, provides medical care, food, clothing, shelter and education for her family. Ayishetu’s story is one of many successes the SHI micro-finance program has chalked.


Ayishetu is a 55-year old married woman with four (4) children. She is a native of Timeabu in the Ashanti Region of Ghana, where she works with her husband on farming and has started up her own petty trading businesses. Thanks to her hard work, dedication, and some support from Self-Help, she is achieving her dream for her children to live better lives and achieve better economic status than she was able to.

Before meeting Self-Help, Ayishetu was a farmer, and all six family members lived in a single room thatched house. Privacy was a luxury and her children could hardly do any private studies after school. School grades were bad. They had one treated bed net to sleep under to prevent malaria, but the congestion in the bedroom made it impossible to use. Malaria was common among her children and she spent many otherwise productive hours at the clinic seeking treatment for a sick child instead. This had adverse effects on her income.

Ayishetu joined the SHI micro-loans program in 2012, and is currently on her fifth loan of GHC 350 ($100) to be repaid over six months. After completing the training in 2012, she received her first loan of GHC 150 ($42), which she used to add petty trading on to her farming business as an additional source of income. Subsequent loans went to expand the business, and profits invested in children’s school fees and to build a new house.

Her new home, a two-bedroom house, is coming up fast. One bedroom is ready and occupied. With this, she hopes to improve the health, safety and comfort of her family.

Successfully, Ayishetu’s three oldest sons have been able to complete apprenticeships in mechanics, masonry and electric work. The oldest of Ayishetu’s sons is 26 years and lives in Tarkwa in the Western Region of Ghana. The three younger ones live with her at Timeabu. The second son, with his expertise in masonry provided free labour for their new house. Her youngest son is fifteen (15) and in junior high school class 1 (7th grade). In the new house, he will have space to do private studies and better his grades. There is joy in the house of Ayishetu.

Though Ayishetu is making some progress, there are challenges confronting her. She tells SHI, as she travels on foot from one community to another selling her ware, rain occasionally comes unannounced and walking long distances is having adverse consequences on her aging feet. However, she is not overly disturbed and believes that nothing good comes easy. She is ready to work even harder to make life better and worthwhile for herself and her family.

Continuous access to micro loans tailored to alleviate hunger in rural Ghana will create a better future for people such as Ayishetu and her children. Thank you for your support.

Ayishetu and her three sons
Ayishetu and her three sons
Ayishetu's old home


Group members display savings books
Group members display savings books

The average Ghanaian is individualistic in nature; wants to do everything all by himself or herself and has little trust in partnership. According to many, this explains why Ghana has fewer industries capable of employing more than 50 people. Many indigenous Ghanaian industries have died with their originators as those around were never allowed to play the much needed sustainability roles.

Culturally, men are considered superior to women in Ghana and this greatly hinders their progress. In many cases women have to consult before they act and this somehow is backed by a Ghanaian proverb ‘sbaa t tuo a twene barima dan mu’, which translates ‘if a woman buys a gun it is the man who keeps it.’ To the detriment of building a better nation, this culture has killed many great ideas thought of by women. When women unite they conquer and move forward.

The Self-Help International (SHI) micro-credit program is helping to build and strengthen the sense of togetherness and culture of partnership among its more than 400 female beneficiaries. These women have built good homes, take care of their families and brought development to their communities.

Nokware Women’s group from Kwaso is one such group. In February 2007 numbering just five (5) they joined the SHI micro-credit program and by dint of hard work and unity their membership grew exponentially.

During the 2012 National Farmers’ Day celebration they were crowned the best women’s group in the Ejisu-Juaben Municipal in Ashanti region of Ghana. They received a certificate, building materials, knapsack sprayer, machetes and rain boots. Though important, these items never quenched their thirst to break more barriers.

Kwaso Women’s group at the 2012 National Farmers’ Day

In 2013 they added cassava processing to their various income generating activities. The environment for the processing is quite difficult. The processing is done in the open and they are at the mercy of the weather and smoke. This notwithstanding, they produce one of the best gari in the municipality.

In a meeting with the executive director of SHI in March 2014, it became apparent that the way forward was for the group to relocate to pave way for shed construction and mechanization. The women made a promise to relocate for further development.

In September 2014, SHI learned that the women had met with the chief and elders and received at no cost, a parcel of land valued at 5,000 Ghanaian cedis ($1566). It is almost impossible for any single woman from the community to chalk this feat.

With this development, the group will process more cassava which will address a critical challenge facing Ghanaian farmers; lack of ready market for farm produce. More employment avenues shall be created, especially for the youth which will minimize crime rates in the community and the surrounding area.

Your support has helped the women of Kwaso group, and many like them, to expand their business and become more independent. Thank you for your generous donation.

Group members processing gari
Group members processing gari
Diana displays her products in March 2014
Diana displays her products in March 2014

Diana is 50 years old and a native of Bedaabour in Ashanti region of Ghana. She is a product of the old Ghanaian education system, in which basic school curricula included practical teaching of home science and technical skills.

Like others her age, Diana learned from a young age how to make dresses with needles. After middle school she became a trader and ‘yaadee yie’; someone who carries sewing machine and move from house to house to mend cloths.

This type of hands-on training for youth was critical for Diana and others like her, but insufficient on its own: she needed access to micro-loans and market avenues as well.

In January 2013, Diana joined Self Help International’s micro-credit program and used her loan to purchase and start selling fabrics to earn additional income. Ready access to fabrics revived knowledge and skills she acquired decades ago as a school girl. Diana tells SHI, “I was never an apprentice seamstress. I am here as a result of needle work lessons I had decades ago and micro loans from SHI.”

She now sews and sells dresses to her community members. An apt businesswoman, she offers to sew dresses at discounted rates for those clients who purchase their fabric from her.

When visited in August 2014, Diana had made dresses that compete favorably in her local market. It is obvious from her designs that she is not only good at cutting and putting fabrics together but she also understands colors.

Diana has 6 children (4 females and 2 males) aged between 9 and 27 years and is able to take good care of them. With the profits earned from her business, she is building a 3-bedroom house to shelter her family and plans to expand her business to be able to train and employ more young women in her community.

Sharing her trade is important to ensuring that future generations of women are able to develop the skills they need to participate in the village economy. Over the past few decades, the educational system of Ghana, like many developing countries, has undergone a transformation aimed at achieving a more efficient system that produces quality human resource to achieve national development. In the process, many practical education programs were cut.  

In the old system, girls were taught to cook delicious local dishes and do needlework, sewing beautiful baby dresses and table cloths, while boys learned to mark and cut wood. The benefits of this type of practical training were enormous. Almost every household had needles which were used to mend torn dresses and it was common to see pupils with patched school uniforms. Though it wasn’t always pleasant to the eye, it saved the family money.

The situation is different today. People, especially those products of the new education system, readily replace their old worn out clothes by purchasing used ones that are imported largely from Europe rather than mending their old clothes. These imports contribute to the collapse of indigenous fabric and dress making industries, and the ever worsening unemployment situation. Current unemployment rate is around 40% and it is not surprising that crime rates are high nowadays.

Women like Diana set a strong example for others of using their talents to advance local industry. There are several other “Dianas” in Ghana who need access to credit in order to unlock their talents as well. Such individuals constitute the much needed growth poles to bring about development in Africa.

Your donation has helped Diana, and many women like her, explore their talent and grow their businesses. Thank you for your generosity.

In August Diana shared some new designs
In August Diana shared some new designs


Lydia stands next to her new sewing machine
Lydia stands next to her new sewing machine

Lydia is 36 years old and has two daughters, ages 11 and 2 ½ years old. In 2010, she made the decision to join the Self-Help International micro credit program in Bedaabour. She had witnessed improvements in the lives of people who had joined the program when it first came to the village in 2008 and became convinced that the program could help her help herself.

Lydia completed seamstress apprenticeship in 2000 and started practicing thereafter. Ten years down the line, there was no sign of improvement in her finances. Bedaabour is a small community with fewer than 50 dresses sewn annually; most of which are sewn during Christmas. It was difficult caring for her only daughter, and earning additional income was a must. She took out a loan from SHI in order to expand her business to trading fabrics in addition to sewing them.

The sale of fabrics serves as a boost to her sewing business. Rather than people purchasing fabrics elsewhere and bringing the fabrics to Lydia to sew, they can now come to her to purchase the fabrics and have the clothing made all in one place. In 2013, she was able to invest in a new sewing machine. She saves part of her profit and re-invests the rest to expand her petty trading. With extra money earned, Lydia is able to provide her daughters with food, clothing and continued education.

Despite her new purchase, Lydia keeps her old sewing machine even though it no longer works because it helps her remember the past and how far she’s come.

Because of your support, Lydia and many women like her can find success and in the process provide better care for their families. Thank you for your donation.

Lydia selling her merchandise
Lydia selling her merchandise


Sarah and her husband with tricycle
Sarah and her husband with tricycle

Sarah  is a 38-year-old woman who lives in Nkawie Panin, a farming community in rural Ghana. She is married and has four children, three of whom are in school.

Up until 2009, Sarah was working as a petty trader and made very little money from her work. She sold fresh produce, such as cassava, plantains, tomatoes, and onions, in low quantities. She bought the produce from a nearby market, about half a kilometre from her house. Prices at this market were higher than those at other, larger markets, which were further away from her home, but she could not afford transportation to larger markets and farms. As a result, her business was generating very little income for Sarah and her family.

In 2009, Sarah applied for a microcredit loan from Self-Help International, hoping it would help her grow her business and increase her family's income.

That year, Sarah received a $25 microcredit loan from Self-Help International, which allowed her to start trading at a small table. She continued to sell food and grow her business, and by 2011, she had expanded her table into a 10x10x8 foot wooden structure, with a refrigerator and a television.

She now has a greater variety of items in her inventory, including canned foods, milk, cooking oil, pasta and soap.

In 2013, she purchased a tricycle so she could move produce from farms to markets. Sarah's husband operates the tricycle, transporting goods for Sarah's business, and also transporting goods for others for a fee. He also is a managing partner in Sarah's business and operates the shop from time to time when Sarah goes into town to purchase goods. Her children also help run the shop when Sarah is preparing meals for the family.

Sarah tells Self-Help International that her secret is hard work and trustworthiness. She is grateful to Self-Help International, especially the microcredit loan program for women.

Thank you for your continued support of SHI's Women's Micro-Credit Program. Because of your generosity, Sarah, and many women like her, have found great success.

Sarah's original shop in 2009
The new store built in January 2014
The new store built in January 2014



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Organization Information

Self-Help International

Location: Waverly, IA - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.selfhelpinternational.org
Project Leader:
Nora Tobin
Waverly, IA United States
$48,919 raised of $50,000 goal
478 donations
$1,081 to go
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