It is wonderful to be back in Buyobo, Uganda at WMI headquarters, catch up with the staff, chat with borrowers and see all the community projects the loan program has been able to provide.
Arriving on a loan collection day is always a thrill as the building fills with hundreds of borrowers repaying their loans and meeting with their sister loan group members.
The 500 seat pavilion we constructed last year is able to accommodate a whole variety of activities, including providing a safe room where staff from our partner, Postbank Uganda, can provide banking services for the rural women in the loan program right in the village. Our local staff is proud that this is the only program of its kind in the area to provide banking services outreach to rural women.
This past year income from the loan program coupled with WMI grants financed the reconstruction of the water system in Buyobo sub-county – it now serves over 5,000 people in the community. With the new filtration system, the water is clean and can be drunk straight from the tap – the only system in all of Sironko District with potable water. Clean water means healthy families and less housework for women so more time for business!
The loan program in Sironko District has grown so much that we have established sub-hubs to accommodate all the 2,000+ borrowers. Touring the sub-hubs, we are greeted with enthusiastic dancing and singing – everyone dances no matter what their age!
In Busita, I was asked to break ground for the new pavilion we are building there for meetings and loan collection. Miraculously, no one was injured as I wielded a very sharp hoe!
The loan program is moving on well and expanding. Collecting personal narratives from borrowers helps us verify the ongoing positive impact the loan program is having in reducing poverty and in bringing rural women access to the financial services that are essential to start a business. Rose Wanyina, a 50-year-old borrower with 3 children makes mandazi (something like doughnuts) which she sells 6 days a week at schools and markets. She can sell anywhere from 100 – 500/day, resulting in about $100/month profit, which has allowed her to buy a plot of land and build a0 permanent house. All of her children are in school, and she told me none of this would have been possible without her loan from WMI!