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Posts Tagged ‘microfinance’

By Jess Broughton

With a running start to the new year WMI has introduced a new girls group to Tanzania. Accepting school aged girls from 10 to 15, this after school group is a great opportunity for girls from different areas to meet and get in-depth and fun education on entrepreneurship, leadership and health. With an overarching goal of readying these young ladies for a healthy and successful future, the immediate aim is to provide a safe and relaxed environment to tackle important topics.

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The teacher, Christina, sits with the girls to answer questions after class

The group’s first day proved its immediate popularity when an anticipated 25 turned into 30 attendants followed by more girls approaching WMI staff with hopes to join. The girls gathered at Tloma Primary school from Tloma, Aya-Labe, Sumawe and Gongali villages and were provided with notebooks and pens before the start of an informative session on HIV/AIDS. Such an important topic for these young ladies was best taught in this group environment in which they could be open and comfortable to communicate and answer questions without any gender influence.

Following a detailed lesson on the topic the teacher separated the girls into small groups in which they were able to discuss questions together more thoroughly and thoughtfully. This was a great opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge and to become more comfortable talking to their peers about such a serious topic. The groups were left with questions to answer, given time and then asked to present their answers to the other groups.

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Students eagerly raise their hands to answer the question.

To finish a successful first day of the new club the girls were provided with a football and encouraged to play outdoors together, relax and bond further as a group after some intense work. With weekly sessions planned, more group activities and after session games these girls now have a great source of additional education.

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The Ganako Women’s Community Organization, one of WMI’s partners,  reaches 250 women in five villages in northern Tanzania. GWOCO keeps an office in only one of the villages. But in reality, the entire communities serve as their offices. When visiting other villages, the staff often relies on schools and village governments to lend meeting spaces, but that doesn’t always work out.

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Martha, the GWOCO secretary (left), counts a loan repayment in a forest clearing in Sumawe Village. 

 

 

A few weeks ago the staff arrived at Gongali Primary School to fill out loan applications for 35 borrowers. The teacher told the women they would have to wait a few minutes for a classroom to be available. But the borrowers wanted to get right to it, so they sat down in the grass and started work right there until the classroom was free.

On a recent trip to Sumawe to collect a loan installment, the staff and borrowers found themselves locked out of the village office that they usually use. The borrowers confidently led the staff around to a forest clearing behind the office, and held the entire meeting there. A few coins were briefly lost among the leaves, but they were recovered and the rest of the meeting went off without a hitch.

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Even GWOCO’s official office is fully integrated into the community. A new friend wandered into the office one day during work and had to be herded out. 

WMI’s partners don’t always work under ideal conditions, but they do always get their work done. Whether in their own office, a borrowed classroom, or a forest floor, the ladies of WMI are ambitious and determined. We are proud are team is able to be so adaptable and impactful in the community!

 

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This summer, WMI interns Danielle DaCosta, Xaveria Alvarez and Dan Higgins, had a chance to sit down and speak with WMI borrowers about their life stories.  Over the next few months we will post a series of WMI borrower biographies so that you can meet more of the rural women in East Africa who are benefiting from the WMI loan program.

Meet Agnes Wodada

Agnes, 44, is a busy and ambitious woman. In addition to being a math and science teacher at Buyobo Primary School, she also works as a local coordinator of some loan groups and successfully runs a tomato business. Her business has grown steadily since receiving her initial loan of 100,000 shillings in 2009, as she took out increasingly larger loans with WMI and eventually graduated to independent banking with Post Bank where she now has a loan of 1 million shillings.

Since her participation in the loan program, she has drastically increased her own skill set in business saying, “I was among the first women to be trained and up until today these skills have allowed me to manage my business and take care of my family.” Her participation in the loan program has enabled her to provide better education for her 4 children, who attend school in Mbale and near Kampala. Her better standard of living has allowed her to help others as she has taken in and looks after 3 children from her extended family.   

Agnes has a bright future ahead of her. She is now in the process of constructing a shop at Buyobo Trading Centre which will allow her to expand her business further. She hopes that in 5 years she will be financially stable enough to no longer require a loan, adding “I will stand be able to stand on my own.”

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The KONY 2012 video has generated significant controvery involving Uganda.

On March 9, the Uganda Government responded in a press Release:
Misinterpretations of media content may lead some people to believe that the LRA is currently active in Uganda. It must be clarified that at present the LRA is not active in any part of Uganda. Successfully expelled by the Ugandan Peoples Defence Forces in mid-2006, the LRA has retreated to dense terrain within bordering countries in the Central African area. They are a diminished and weakened group with numbers not exceeding 300. The threat posed by the LRA in our neighboring countries is considerably reduced and we are hopeful that it will be altogether eliminated with the help of US logistical support.

The people of Uganda, especially those in the north of the country are on a path of rebuilding, reconciliation and reintegration and are now vibrant and prospering communities. To aid this prosperity the Government implemented a 10 Year Peace, Recovery and Development Plan for Northern Uganda (PRDP).

Former child soldiers perform for WMI trainers in Gulu, Uganda, January 2012

This past January. WMI president, Robyn Nietert, assisted with training workshops for poor women in Gulu, Uganda, which was the epicenter of the LRA insurgency and subsequent IDP camps. She reported that the area was peaceful.

Over a million people were displaced in northern Uganda during the fighting and tens of thousands of children were abducted. There are currently many international NGOs and local Ugandans working on reconstruction and stabilizing the local economy, which was devastated.

WMI opened a loan hub in Gulu last October to give rural women in the area a chance to start businesses. In April, WMI will open another loan hub even further north in Atiak, the site of the largest massacre of civilians by LRA troops, which took place in 1995. Every April 20, Atiak commemorates those who died.

WMI is partnering with two local Ugandan community based organizations to launch these loan hubs: Childcare Development Organization – Uganda and Blessed Watoto (Children). These groups are working very hard, with limited resources, to bring economic opportunities to northern Uganda as it recovers from the impact of the 10 years of fighting. They are on the ground running small outreach initiatives on a daily basis. They provide services and support activites for orphaned children in the region. WMI believes that working at this grassroots level is the best way we can help the women and families of northern Uganda rebuild their lives. We appreciate your support as we bring more and more microfinance opportunites to women in East Africa who have been disenfrachised and marginalized. It is inspiring to see how they build assets to better lives with the small opportunity provided by a WMI loan.

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