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1,000 Microloans for Rural Women in East Africa

by Women's Microfinance Initiative
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1,000 Microloans for Rural Women in East Africa
1,000 Microloans for Rural Women in East Africa
1,000 Microloans for Rural Women in East Africa
1,000 Microloans for Rural Women in East Africa
1,000 Microloans for Rural Women in East Africa
1,000 Microloans for Rural Women in East Africa
1,000 Microloans for Rural Women in East Africa
1,000 Microloans for Rural Women in East Africa
1,000 Microloans for Rural Women in East Africa
1,000 Microloans for Rural Women in East Africa
1,000 Microloans for Rural Women in East Africa
1,000 Microloans for Rural Women in East Africa
1,000 Microloans for Rural Women in East Africa
1,000 Microloans for Rural Women in East Africa
1,000 Microloans for Rural Women in East Africa
1,000 Microloans for Rural Women in East Africa
1,000 Microloans for Rural Women in East Africa
1,000 Microloans for Rural Women in East Africa
1,000 Microloans for Rural Women in East Africa
1,000 Microloans for Rural Women in East Africa
1,000 Microloans for Rural Women in East Africa
1,000 Microloans for Rural Women in East Africa
1,000 Microloans for Rural Women in East Africa
1,000 Microloans for Rural Women in East Africa
1,000 Microloans for Rural Women in East Africa
1,000 Microloans for Rural Women in East Africa
1,000 Microloans for Rural Women in East Africa
1,000 Microloans for Rural Women in East Africa
1,000 Microloans for Rural Women in East Africa
1,000 Microloans for Rural Women in East Africa
1,000 Microloans for Rural Women in East Africa
1,000 Microloans for Rural Women in East Africa
1,000 Microloans for Rural Women in East Africa
1,000 Microloans for Rural Women in East Africa
1,000 Microloans for Rural Women in East Africa
1,000 Microloans for Rural Women in East Africa
1,000 Microloans for Rural Women in East Africa
1,000 Microloans for Rural Women in East Africa
1,000 Microloans for Rural Women in East Africa
1,000 Microloans for Rural Women in East Africa
1,000 Microloans for Rural Women in East Africa
1,000 Microloans for Rural Women in East Africa
1,000 Microloans for Rural Women in East Africa

After many long hours of hard work by 10 college interns this summer, and supervision by project directors Montana Stevenson and Ainsley Morris, the 2011 WMI fact books have been finalized and posted on the WMI web site. The fact books document the loan program impact and the results continue to be impressive. They also provide an in-depth profile of the demographic characteristics of WMI borrowers on a village by village basis.   

WMI 2011 Fact Books   

Quick Demographic Profile: 

  • An astounding 90% of first time borrowers live on less than 50 cents per day when they enter the WMI loan program. The World Bank defines poverty as living on less than $2 a day, and "extreme poverty" as living on less than $1.25 a day.
  • 90% of borrowers reported having less than $25 in savings at the time of their first loan. 
  • Over 90% of borrowers lived in homes with dirt floors.
  • Only 5% of borrowers used electricity as their source of light.
  • Less than 50% of borrowers had mosquito nets for all household members.
  • The majority of borrowers have 4 or more children and additionally care for children who are not their own (many orphaned by AIDS). 

Because WMI collected the data separately in each loan hub, it is now able to compare the information from the different hubs. For instance, in the Bumwalukani loan hub in Bududa District, Uganda over two-thirds of first time borrowers are living on less than 10 cents per day. That's one-fifth of the amount of some of the other hub locations. The ability to compare statistics gives WMI opportunities to tailor the loan program to the specific needs of different loan hubs.  

The best news is that the loan program impact surveys demonstrate enormous gains by WMI borrowers after just 6 months in the loan program:

  • The number of borrowers living on less that 50 cents per day dropped from 90% to just 5%.
  • Almost 100% of borrowers reported saving regularly and listed their top three reasons for saving as: emergencies, healthcare, and businesses expansion.
  • Nearly 75% of borrowers have more mosquito nets after their loans.
  • 100% of borrowers report an improvement in their business skills since receiving their first loans.
  • Almost 100% of borrowers report that the loan program has had a positive impact on their lives.

The complete loan program impact fact books are posted on the WMI web site. Check them out!

Loan Program Impact Fact Book - Buyobo, Uganda 

Loan Program Impact fact Book - Siaya, Kenya  

For the first time, WMI was able to prepare a comparison of baseline data from information gathered from baseline surveys of borrowers over a three year time span. The data show that the general living standards of borrowers when they enter the loan program are fairly consistent over the 3 year period. This data implies that there are no external forces or circumstances in the villages or local economy that are resulting in improvements in the general living standards of local residents. It substantiates that improvements in borrowers' living standards after they enter the loan program are attributable to their businesses and not outside factorsComparison Fact Book.

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Nalini teaches math
Nalini teaches math

Summer is a busy and productive time for WMI, both in Buyobo and at its headquarters in Bethesda, MD.  For the second summer in a row, high school interns volunteered in Buyobo, Uganda with the WMI loan program. They painted the classrooms in the new primary school buildings that last year's high school interns helped construct.  Their wall designs ranged from a detailed map of Africa to the solar system. The interns taught math and English to students in grades P6 and P7 (the equivalent of sixth and seventh grades).

Through the generosity of its donors, WMI collected 500 pairs of eyeglasses in May, which the interns sorted by prescription and distributed to the teachers and borrowers in the loan program.  WMI in Buyobo also welcomed George Washington University anthropology professor, John Finch, who helped improve the WMI Internet Café, which serves the village and which was started by last year’s high school interns.  He interviewed village elders and is preparing a history of Buyobo and written record of how the WMI loan program has changed the economic opportunities for families in the district.  Jackie Vourthius, a 2010  business major from UMD spent several months in the village teaching WMI’s local director how to automate loan program documents.   Erin Kelly, a 2010 UMich graduate, is in Buyobo through July interviewing borrowers and making a short documentary film about their businesses.  She is assisted by Ida Stuve, a third year student at University of Ediburugh in Scotland.   In Bethesda, 8 college inters are analyzing borrower data and preparing an updated fact book on loan program impact, while two high school interns are updating the web site and researching micro finance issues.

On the expansion front, WMI is excited to announce the addition of a new loan hub in Shikokho, Kenya.  Two more loan hubs (in Gulu and Kisese, Uganda) are on the horizon.  Their addition will bring WMI’s total loan hubs to 10 in the next six months.  All of the new hubs will be affiliated with existing community based organizations already operating in rural villages outside of the main towns in these areas.  This helps ensure a solid local infrastructure to support new borrowers and ensure that the local women administering the program have sponsors right in the village who can provide input and guidance.  The WMI loan program is thriving and expanding because of generous public support and WMI is so grateful to all of its donors. With your help, we are changing the face of poverty, one loan at a time.

Heidi talks to a child
Heidi talks to a child
Launch of Shikokho Loan Hub
Launch of Shikokho Loan Hub
Sorting through eyeglasses
Sorting through eyeglasses
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Using footage from both Uganda and Kenya, WMI's new video - Building The Road Out of Poverty - shows the WMI loan program in action. Please take a couple minutes to check out the video on YouTube, which can be accessed here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9kA7bEgnYro

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WMI just completed its 2011 trip to East Africa to review the progress of loan program operations.  The results were just terrific - the village level loan programs are running smoothly under the guidance of WMI's Local Director, Olive Wolimbwa, and her team at the Bulambuli Widow's Association (BWA).  Women's businesses are growing steadily larger and the local economy has expanded noticeably in the villages where WMI operates.  A full report on the visit will be posted shortly.
 
Buyobo - January 2011 - Colleen Rossier
Colleen Rossier in Buyobo, January, 2011

Colleen Rossier, a 2010 graduate from UVA with a degree in environmental science travelled to Uganda in January 2011 for a 3 week internship with the WMI loan programme. She joined Montana Stevenson and Ainsley Morris who have been in Uganda since the end of September working with the ladies on their transition to independent banking and preparing a banking manual. Colleen currently works for the US Department of Agriculture and was especially interested in local farming techniques, animal husbandry, and environmental stewardship. Click here to see a slideshow of her visit including many shots of the WMI loan program in action and village life.

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Prisca Mafabi and Her Motorbike
Prisca Mafabi and Her Motorbike

If you haven’t already done so, take a minute to look at the latest blog post from the field on the WMI web site and you will see the smiling faces of some of the first Buyobo Motorbike Ladies posing with their hogs.   http://wmionline.wordpress.com/.  That’s right!  WMI loans have empowered women to start buying motorbikes so that they can solve one of the most intractable problems rural businesswomen face: lack of reliable transportation.  Rather than waiting for the government to provide a reliable transportation infrastructure, WMI borrowers are earning enough money to start taking matters into their own hands.  The motorbikes are economical and can handle the rugged terrain.   Women use them to transport goods, search for suppliers and markets, and provide transport to other borrowers who need it.  The Buyobo Motorbike ladies are providing a resource for the entire village.

You will smile when you see how proud these women are of their accomplishment. Like Priscia Mafabi, with one hand on her cell phone, and the other balancing her motorbike, you can see that she is definitely taking care of business! 

Joy Nangoye and Her Motorbike
Joy Nangoye and Her Motorbike
Olive Nangoli and Her Motorbike
Olive Nangoli and Her Motorbike

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Organization Information

Women's Microfinance Initiative

Location: Bethesda, MD - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @wmionline
Project Leader:
Robyn Nietert
President
Bethesda, Maryland United States

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