This year WMI analyzed data collected from more than 2,000 surveys completed by women in the loan program. This large amount of data allowed us to identify patterns that emerged as women became more experienced entrepreneurs and as they increased the size of their loans. One basic trend was clear throughout all of the data: women who started businesses dramatically increased their household income, savings and standard of living.
In trying to understand the loan program results in terms used to assess global poverty, we looked at the 2015 Pew Research Center analysis on poverty levels. Their research classified those who live on $1.25 per day as living in "dire poverty", while those who earn $2 to $10 per day are considered "low-income." Those living on $10 - $20 are considered "middle-income" and those earning $20.01 - $50 are considered "upper-middle-income."
UGANDA - Before entering the loan program, 76% of WMI borrowers were living below the "dire poverty" line. After just 18 months in the loan program, only 28% of borrowers were living below the dire poverty line. This is a 63% reduction in the dire poverty level. Even more encouraging was the fact that a full 10% of women had moved into the "middle income" level after 18 months in the loan program and were earning more than $10/day.
The loan hub in Buyobo (Sironko District), Uganda is the largest and oldest in the WMI program. Because the program has been so enormously successful there we have supported its expansion to 70 loan groups totaling 1,400 borrowers. We studied this loan hub separately and found the improvements in household income, savings and living standards to be even more dramatic than throughout Uganda as a whole. In Sironko District, less than one-half of one percent of borrowers entering the loan program had household incomes of more than $1,559/year. After 24 months in the loan program, 96% of borrowers were earning more than $1,559/year, while 42% were earning at least $2,670/year.
Baseline data collected from the borrowers indicates that nearly 100% had household incomes of $240 or less per year before entering the loan program. After joining the program, over 90% reported earning over $240 per year, with 65% reporting monthly income of $492 or more. This increased monthly income shows a transition from dire poverty to low-income, a significant development for these women.
This increased income translates directly into improved household living standards as women report spending their business profits on more and better meals, medical care, school fees and upgrading their homes.
Please take a few minutes to look through the 2015 Fact Books to see how your support has empowered rural women and their families throughout East Africa.