July/August 2014            


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In This Update...

  • 2014 Loan Program Impact
  • Melissa LaReau named WMI East Africa Finance Director
  • Tanzania Loan Hub Staff Trained in Uganda
  • WMI High School Interns Report on Successful Trip to Buyobo, Uganda
  • Dining for Women Awards $40,000 Grant to WMI

2014 Loan Program Impact

Each year, WMI surveys borrowers to collect data on program impact. In 2014, WMI's college interns analyzed data from loan program participants throughout East Africa to assess how the loans are empowering rural women and improving household living standards. The results continue to be impressive!  Extensive information is contained in the new program Factbooks that have been posted on the WMI web site. 2014 WMI Factbooks.  The summary table below provides some highlights:





 WMI East Africa Finance Director

WMI Fellow, Melissa LaReau, has been promoted to East Africa Finance Director

Melissa LaReau

and will be spending another year working with the ladies in the loan program at WMI headquarters in Buyobo, Uganda.


Melissa spent this past year streamlining overall systems operations for most loan program functions. She instituted spreadsheet reporting forms and trained the local staff how to use them. WMI's local accounting and book keeping functions have now officially entered the computer age!


Melissa and Grace working on the budget

Melissa  trained one of WMI's local borrowers, Grace Mangala, to become our in-house computer expert. With the confidence of a professional, Grace has taken on the important role of reviewing and filing all incoming data

from WMI operations in Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda. She also tracks all income and expenses for WMI's main loan hub - operated by the Buyobo Women's Association - which is serving over 1,000 village women in four districts in Eastern Uganda.   To increase local capacity, Melissa and Grace are now training a second computer operator, Agnes Wodada, who will help with administrative functions.

Allen Namerome in Buyobo


Allen Namerome, WMI's secretary, is also computer saavy.  She handles

status report forms and also ongoing correspondence. 

In the upcoming year, Melissa will continue training local staff to automate operations and she will additionally focus on financial responsibility and program oversight. She will continue to act as a resource for all loan hubs. Our goal for the next year is for the local staff to master all local operations and administration, including budgeting and strategic planning to accommodate future expansion and growth. 



Tanzania Loan Program Administrators Trained in Buyobo, Uganda

Local staff working with borrowers in WMI's Tanzania loan hubs, travelled all the way from villages surrounding Karatu in North Central Tanzania to WMI headquarters in Buyobo, Uganda in order to receive training in advanced loan program operations.

Members of the two CBOs that WMI partners with in Tanzania, 
made the two-day trip by bus and local min-van taxi, arriving in Buyobo exhausted, but extremely excited to be attending the training session.  It was the first trip out of the country for the women administering the Tanzania loan hubs. 


It is extremely challenging working with the Maasai ladies who live on the high plateau surrounding Ngorongoro Crater. The local environment is harsh: water must be trucked in, raising non-indigenous crops is prohibited, so most foodstuffs must be purchased in town (two hours away), and local herds of goats and cattle compete for scarce scrub vegetation.  Yet the ladies have established small businesses that are thriving.  The local marketplace has doubled in size since the loan program launched.  Check out the new video footage of the Maasai ladies in the Alailelai loan program selling their products at the open air market in their village. Tanzania video


WMI High School Interns Report on Successful Trip to Buyobo, Uganda

The high school interns have returned from another successful trip to Buyobo, Uganda.2014 Whitman interns  This fifth group   of intrepid young travellers from Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, MD, led by chaperones Laurie Safron, a Whitman teacher, and her husband (and former Eagle Scout), Jim Cannon, took on a very demanding challenge: refurbishing six dilapidated classrooms at Buyobo Primary School.  The internship contingent provided a reported on their activities:


"Only one of the six classrooms was in use because of deteriorating floors and walls, lack of doors, and torn screens on the windows.  The students and chaperones taught primary school classes for 4.5 hours a day, and then mixed and poured concrete to repair floors, patched gaping holes in the walls, sanded and dusted the walls, swept the rooms, and painted the walls white.  In addition, screens were installed on all the windows, and three new doors were built and installed, along with locks for all the classrooms.  It looks great, but felt even better when we realized how useful this additional space is to Buyobo." 


"We apbu vanlso repaired some minor leaks in the gutters from last year and built a support stand for the pipe that feeds out of the water collection unit we installed previously.  That storage tank is used and enjoyed by the whole village.  We set up a volleyball net and donated more basketballs and soccer balls, and gave the school and staff enough uniforms to field many teams! One of the most rewarding events was seeing the deposit day and the mobile bank with security guards that came to the WMI building.  The students learned a lot about the value of the loans and the impact they have on families in East Africa."



Dining for Women Awards $40,000 Grant to WMI



Dining for Women, the South Carolina based non-profit whose mission is

to, "educate girls, teach women a skill, help develop markets for their products, and fight the prevalent gender inequality in the world", has awarded WMI a grant of $40,000 to expand the loan program. WMI is extremely grateful for DFW's support, which is made possible by the thousands of DFW members nationwide who contribute to the organization.


DFW has developed a unique approach to fundraising. "Dining for Women chapters meet on a regular basis - most monthly - and share a meal together. It may be in someone's home, in a college cafeteria, an office break room, a church hall, or a local watering hole. Members share camaraderie and learn about that month's featured programs through videos, educational documents and presentations, and free and open discussion. Funds raised each month go to the featured program and sustained program." DFW link


DFW provides support to, "grass-roots organizations providing programs aimed at improving the living situations for women and their families, by providing the tools they need to make changes in their lives, in their communities and in their children's futures." WMI's mission, goals and program operating parameters meshed well with the types of organizations DFW is seeking to support. DFW's grant will enable WMI to serve hundreds of more women with loans and business skills training in the coming year. Thank you DFW!






Each of you reading this Newsletter has helped make WMI a success. On behalf of all the rural women of East Africa that WMI serves: THANK YOU! With your continued support, we look forward to bringing the benefits of the WMI loan program to even greater numbers of impoverished women this year so that they can create a better life for themselves and their families.





The WMI Board of Directors


Robyn Nietert          rgnietert@aol.com  

Betsy Gordon          betsygord@mac.com
Deborah Smith        deborahwsmith@yahoo.com

June Kyakobye        junekyaks@yahoo.com

Trix Vandervossen   bvandervossen@imf.org 

Jane Erickson          ericksonjn@verizon.net
Terry Ciccotelli        terryciccotelli@gmail.com