WISE was launched in October 2010 after we conducted a study which indicated illiterate parents were one of the major impediments to children completing primary school. Women who have never had an education simply do not see the benefits of their children becoming literate. Additionally, chronically poor women do not have the means to provide basic food & healthcare for their children, let alone the costs of schooling. The program helps to address the issues of delinquency and school drop outs.
WISE-ME uses targeted, conditional microloans to both alleviate financial need & provide women a foundation for long term income stability. Strategically, women are drawn from the school parent body. Once they are trained in basic financial literacy, they receive an initial $50-$150 microloan, payable with interest, to start their own business. WISE works hand in hand with the women, providing continuing business education & assisting on-site to help them establish a solid financial foundation.
As the women successfully operate businesses, they receive access to increasingly larger loan amounts, eventually transitioning to independent loans. 99% of borrowers were able to double their income within six months of joining the program. Additionally, 20% have hired employees, initiating a trickle-down effect in the local economy. Equally importantly, the loan mandates each borrower to keep her children in school, thus providing the foundation for long-term literacy & economic stability.