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Business Trainings

After weeks of preparation and organization, we have kicked off business skills training sessions here in Tanzania! WMI aims to give not just money, but advice and education on how to run a successful business. That way our borrowers are guaranteed to make their loan repayments easily, and put money aside for themselves.

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Vicky, our Chairwoman for Buger village, reads stories of businesswomen who got into trouble because they did not keep good records. In one story, a woman accuses her husband of stealing from her because she forgot to write down her expenses, and then forgot she had spent the money. 

WMI has designed eight activities to teach eight different business skills. The staff of GWOCO, our Tanzanian CBO partner, trained the chairwomen of each loan group in the activities, and now the chairwomen run the trainings for the borrowers.

After the day-long training for chairwomen, one chairwoman told us, “I really enjoyed this training – we should do more!”

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At a seminar for group chairwomen, the GWOCO Secretary, Eliminatha, leads an activity while the chairwomen take notes. 

The first activity is writing a household budget. Each woman comes to the meeting with her budget. The chairwoman and staff review the budgets with each woman and give advice. Then the chairwoman leads a discussion about the importance of household budgets, and how to do one properly. The borrowers discuss unnecessary expenses that they can cut. After we did this training in Tloma village, one borrower said, “I did not understand what a household budget was before, but I get it now.”

 

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On the right, the Chairwoman of our groups in Buger village and our Treasurer review household budgets with the borrowers on the left. 

This month, the borrowers will do a recordkeeping activity. We try to emphasize the importance of records at all of our meetings. The recordkeeping activity includes examples of what can go wrong when businesswomen don’t keep good records.

Next month, we will do a teamwork and trust activity including trust circles, which the chairwomen got a kick out of at their training. After we go through all eight WMI activities, the chairwomen and staff here will come up with their own activities.

Do you have ideas for business skills trainings? Let us know in the comments!

Mallembae (hello) from Buyobo!

Week two has been quite a productive time. Tuesday was the official beginning of our teaching at Buyobo Primary School and our teaching roles are as follows. Natalie is teaching P5 English, Michael is teaching P7 Mathematics, Javier is teaching P5 PE, and Noah is teaching P7 Science. The first week of classes went off without a hitch, and after getting our Ugandan accents dialed in, both the interns and students have been having a great time.

On top of our schoolwork, we have had quite a busy week getting the rest of our community development projects off the ground. So far, the biggest news is the installation of two brand new, heavy-duty goal posts for the school, to help kick off the school’s recreational program. This new addition combined with our purchase of soccer balls, jerseys, and field flags will allow for the start of our first annual soccer tournament. Hosted by WMI at Buyobo Primary School, it will showcase the athletic talent of students both at Buyobo Primary and Bulambali Parent School through a friendly competition. The program will be primarily run by Michael Chang, an intern, and player for the Princeton University soccer team. His experience coupled with organizational support from the rest of the intern team should lead to a successful developmental program and tournament.

In addition to the recreational program, boys group has gotten off the ground quite quickly. With financial support from the Bulambali Women’s Association, the group was able to purchase an adolescent dairy cow in order to start an entrepreneurship program for the boys. The program will teach young men basic business techniques and the value of responsibility. The group hopes to see their cow’s milk sold in market, and have proceeds support the activities of boys group.

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To complete the weekly summary, the intern team has been working to improve village health on both a mental and physical level. Specifically, Natalie, has been working to price out and gauge interest in the community for a counseling service catered for victims of sexual abuse, and those experiencing stigma for having HIV/AIDS. With Natalie’s efforts, we hope to see a sustainable program established in Buyobo by the time we leave, so that these stigmatized issues are addressed in a healthy and appropriate manner. In addition, Noah has been working to develop a curriculum to help train the community health workers of the Village Health Team in basic skills of first aid and CPR. This program will occur in junction with the local clinic and will result in a VHT trained in basic first aid so that they can provide immediate care to patients and safely move them to the nearest hospital. The program hopes to address the growing need for medical assistance specifically in rural parts of Uganda.

Uanyala (Thank You),

WMI Buyobo Intern Team

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WMI Buyobo Blog

 

“I am fine”:

-A colloquial response from all school children in Buyobo and an accurate summary of how we are doing!

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After over 20 hours of flights and 8 hours of driving, we have finally arrived in Buyobo. Natalie Andrasko, Michael Chang, Noah Martin, and Javier Eguiara are all safe and in good spirits. Over the past few days, we have been busy planning with community leaders and local WMI leaders how we can best spend our next few months. After some discussion we have arrived at the following plan of attack.

 

  • Work with local P5 teacher Susan Wabule to continue the successful girls group as a means to provide young women in the community a safe place to discuss sensitive issues such as safe sex and family planning as well as to encourage young entrepreneurship.
  • At the request of community leaders and the boys themselves we have also begun a boys group with local Nelson Wofana so that young men in the community can have a similar safe environment to learn about family planning, healthy relationships, and safe sex.
  • Start and maintain a local soccer clinic and league for both men and women in the area to start some friendly competition and community building.
  • Work with local construction teams to erect a full sized permanent soccer field outside of Buyobo Primary School as well as to create a working blacktop so that basketball can be played and the recreational program at the school can be expanded.
  • Work with the locally established VHT community health team as well as the local clinic to train community health workers in first aid, CPR, as well as in taking blood pressure and heart rate. In junction with this program we will be developing a curriculum for these training courses so that the skills can be transferred down to new community health workers in a sustainable manner.
  • Attempt to establish a safe counseling center for those suffering from mental health disorders as well as those victims of sexual assault in the community. This will be in an effort to reduce stigma surrounding the topics and to encourage open discussion as opposed to concealment when confronted with these issues.
  • We will be teaching a variety of different classes at Buyobo primary school as substitute teachers during our time here.
  • Boys group leaders Michael, Noah, Nelson, and Javier will also work with students to produce a chicken coup project that the students of the class will be responsible for maintaining to provide business experience and teach lessons on responsibility. In addition, the sale of both the chickens themselves and their eggs will be used as a revenue stream to fund the boys group program.
  • Girls group leaders Natalie, Ashleigh and Susan will work with girls group students to restore and maintain the pig project, where in the students are responsible for the care of three pigs and sale of their piglets. The project should teach responsibility and some entrepreneurial basics.
  • At the request of the community we will repair the schools mural that was first put in place by WMI interns four years prior.
  • At the request of WMI director we will produce a map of WMI’s current loan hubs to demonstrate our success in Uganda.
  • With assistance from the VHT program we will work to collect metrics on community opinion of our projects and program as a whole to ensure that we maintain our work in solidarity with community needs as opposed to simply doing what we feel is best.
  • Work with local directors of the WMI loan program to offer business education to new borrowers, and to serve in whatever capacity the program requires.

 

We have a lot to do in the months to come, and we are all excited to get started. Our strong community support and effective team dynamic should lead to a very productive and very beneficial time in Buyobo. We hope you follow our journey, as we ride the wave of community development throughout Buyobo.

 

Best,

WMI Buyobo Intern Team
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Milk Collective

One of my favorite things about living in Tanzania is the fresh, organic food that fills the markets and stores. WMI borrowers are involved in most types of small business here, not least the production of delicious, healthy food.

A group of our borrowers from Gongali village have pooled their loans to create a dairy collective. They rent a storefront in Karatu town where they sell incredibly fresh milk and butter.

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WMI borrowers at the counter of the dairy shop that they collectively run. 

I had the opportunity to visit the collective with my mom, who is here visiting me for a few weeks. She has been a supporter of WMI for years and was greeted as a guest of honor.

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Flaviana, the chairwoman of our Gongali borrowers, wraps my mom in a traditional kanga fabric. The borrowers also gave her the shirt she’s wearing, which says “GWOCO WOMEN GONGALI” on the pocket. 

The borrowers showed us the process of preparing the milk. They milk the cows at home, and then bring the milk to the store, where they either serve it fresh or take out the fat to accommodate every preference. They serve milk both hot and cold – boiled milk is a popular choice here. They also churn butter, and they were enthusiastic about my suggestion that they start making ice cream.

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Two of the borrowers pour a glass of hot milk for me to sample. 

My mom and I were invited to turn the handle of a machine that draws the fat out of milk.

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My mom helps work the machine that separates fat from the milk. This business is health-conscious!

Then we shared a glass with the ladies, and received gifts of clothing from them. They were full of questions about life in the U.S., and we all walked away knowing more about each other’s cultures.

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The visit wouldn’t be complete without a group selfie to include everyone!

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Village leaders Nelson, Alfred, and Olive model the wheelbarrows, outfits, and tools for clean-up

This past Friday, May 6th, 2016 marked the official launch day of the Keep Buyobo Clean Initiative. In partnership with the local Village Health Team, the WMI ladies have teamed up to clean our community. In Uganda, there is no official system for garbage disposal. Most throw their garbage on the ground or collect it to burn. Over time, litter on the ground accumulates and contaminates the precious soils and waters that the community is so dependent upon. The community is not sensitized on the dangers of these practices and as the population grows, the problems will only worsen.

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WMI staff having fun and making hats for the occasion!

In an effort to combat these dangerous habits and to improve the quality of health for humans and the environment alike, WMI has devised a plan that will create jobs, sensitize the community about safe garbage disposal, and Keep Buyobo Clean! Thanks to the dedication and diligence of our borrowers, the loan program has generated enough income to fund community programs such as this one.

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Joyce, sweeping us off of our feet 

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High-fashion models displaying our new Keep Buyobo Clean jackets!

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Our newest additions to the WMI team: three cleaners dedicated to keeping the community healthy and attractive! 

WMI hired three cleaners that will be responsible for picking up the garbage at the two major trading centers and along the main road six days a week. To keep these cleaners safe, they have been provided with gloves, rubber boots, jackets, as well as the necessary tools for pick-up. The Village Health Team will work to educate the community on throwing away the garbage in the designated trashcans to reduce the cleaners’ workload and become involved in the cleanliness of the community.

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Official launch day participants go out into the community and start to pick-up

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Jackie, our Assistant Director, showing us how it is done

On launch day WMI invited the community to the pavilion to discuss the project and celebrate clean beginnings. Many government officials attended to show their support and multiple speeches were given by village elders. Afterwards, the attendees went out with the Village Health Team and WMI ladies to pick-up the garbage in solidarity. All participants were rewarded with a delicious lunch of local Ugandan eats. Cheers to progress!

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The crew! Thank you, team!

Watch What You Eat

People always wonder what types of businesses women operate in rural parts of East Africa. Read on and find out how much you didn’t know about how a nice steak makes its way to your dinner plate.

Last week I paid my first visit to the business of a WMI borrower here in Tanzania. As a vegetarian I was hoping it would be maybe a nice organic egg farmer or perhaps a local nursery school. As luck would have it, Eliminatha, the secretary for our loan program group, is a butcher and she invited me over to see her process – from beginning to end!

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Eliminatha is in her element as she cuts up a part of the cow which I cannot identify. 

As not only a vegetarian, but also an animal lover, it was hard for me to get excited about this excursion. Arriving at Eliminatha’s home, high in the hills of Tloma village, I was dreading what I might see (and smell).

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Another WMI borrower (left) waits as Eliminatha prepares her order.

To my relief, the slaughter was over before I arrived, and Eliminatha was well into the process of butchering. I sat on the bed in the larger of the two rooms of her home, with the hooves and ankles of the cow on the floor next to me. That was a first-time experience. Ignoring this mildly alarming proximity to detached bovine extremities, I settled in to observe.

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Eliminatha weighs out an order. My only contribution was holding plastic bags open for her–I couldn’t bring myself to make a cut.

To my surprise, it was enjoyable to watch Eliminatha at work. Customers were gathered outside her door, patiently awaiting their orders. One of her children held a notebook with a list of everyone’s name and order, and Eliminatha handed out each bag of meat as she finished filling it. If a customer wasn’t there, she carefully labeled the order and put it aside.

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Butchering is fun!

I was impressed with Eliminatha’s work in the same way that I am impressed by ballet dancers and astronauts: people who perform with apparent ease tasks that I cannot wrap my head around, much less picture myself doing. Her knife never hesitated as she systematically took apart the cow. She weighed each customer’s order carefully and then gave everyone just a little extra as they watched her wrap the order, ensuring that they will return on her next butchering day. Great marketing technique! She was clearly in charge as she directed the work of the several men who were helping her.

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Eliminatha double-checks an order. Part of her job as GWOCO Secretary is to encourage our borrowers to keep good records. She leads by example!

I still won’t be eating beef anytime soon, but if I change my mind I’m confident that I can get it from the best butcher in town.

It was smiles all around in rural Buger village in the Arusha Region of Tanzania, about 20 miles from the town of Karatu. That’s because it was loan issuance day! Borrowers and the staff of our local partner, the women’s group known as GWOCO, were already standing and singing to greet us with their song: “mkopo ni mpangalio”, which translates loosely to “the loan is arranged”! It’s a GWOCO song that expresses the borrowers’ excitement to receive their loans.

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Every borrower had a big smile on her face after receiving the loan.

We started with loans for a new group that is starting this cycle. These borrowers had spent the previous week preparing. They attended a GWOCO/WMI seminar with Esther, the loan program educator, and learned about small business dos and don’ts. Then they wrote their loan applications and business plans with the help of Eliminatha, the GWOCO Secretary. After all of their training, it was an exciting moment when the women actually received the cash in their hands to launch their business!

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Receiving loans and a repayment calendar. 

The GWOCO staff read the business plans before agreeing to give out loans to the new borrowers. I was very impressed with their forethought. For example, one woman who will be buying and selling chickens put down medicine for her livestock as an expense. This kind of active planning will enable her to foresee potential costs and prepare to meet them. It will also make it easy for her to pay off her loan!

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One of the best parts of loan distribution day is everyone dressed in their best kitenge and kanga. 

The continuing borrowers in the program were excited to move on from their 300,000 shilling loan ($150) to 400,000 shillings ($200). In their follow-up applications, they gave various ideas for the use of the new funds. Some plan to branch out into other businesses, while others want to improve their stock and still others want to start selling their products regularly in town, rather than only at the bi-weekly market.

Before receiving a new loan or a follow-up, every borrower fills out a survey. This enables us to keep track of how the loans are helping them to improve their lives, communities, and status as women.

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A borrower signs the group loan agreement, which states that if one woman is unable to pay, the rest will pay for her. This group model enforces payment through social pressure rather than less savory money-collecting practices. 

In response to the question, “Has the loan had a positive impact on your community?”, many women said that it was easier to access services in the community. When service providers like health care workers and water companies learn that a community’s income is rising, they are willing to make greater investments in that community. The loan program’s impact on community development here is mimicking WMI’s amazing results in Uganda, and we couldn’t be happier about it!

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