July/August 2017             







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In This Update...

  • WMI 2017 Loan Program Results
  • WMI Fellows Transition 
  • Women's Health Gains in Tanzania Loan Program
  • Water Project Video
  • WMI Borrower Yearbook
WMI 2017 Loan Program Results
Once again, WMI's college interns have done a spectacular job during the summer analyzing the survey
WMI Fellow Kirsten (left) supervising the summer interns
data collected throughout the year from borrowers in the loan program in order to present program impact results.  The information presented in this year's Fact Book is based on a total of 1,320 surveys conducted at different points in the loan program cycle from women in a variety of the businesses.

The enormous impact the loan program has on the women's earning power remains impressive. Before joining the loan program, 90% of borrowers made less than $46 per month and the distribution suggests an average income of $32/month. Upon graduation from the loan program two and a half years later, the women's average income was $169/month.  This represents a 428% increase in monthly income.

Aliziki sells household items, including solar products
One of the most startling improvements in household living standards is that 22% of the women report using solar as the main form of lighting in their homes, with fewer than 42% using candles.  Looking back to 2009, fewer than 3.5% of the women reported using something other than a fossil fuel lighting source (which would have included both solar and conventional battery powered lamps) and nearly 64% reported using mainly candles.  The in-roads solar power is making with women in the loan program is attributable both to the women's earning power from their businesses so that they have disposable income to spend on solar products and WMI's introduction of community projects that promote solar as a responsible and cost-effective lighting alternative.

Over 98% of WMI's borrowers report that their business allowed them to help other people. Of these, 70% use the funds from their business to support orphans, the elderly and widows in the community. The ripple effect of the loan program is significant: loans are directly benefitting not only WMI's borrowers and their immediate families but also their extended families and other vulnerable members of the community. Further, borrowers report being business advisors to provide ideas to their peers, bringing services closer to the people who need them, and serving as community leaders as a result of the loan program.

Please take a few minutes to read about the strides the loan program is making in helping rural women launch successful businesses and giving them the resources to improve living standards in their households and their communities.    2017 Fact Book

WMI Fellows Transition
Another Fellow's Term has expired in Buyobo and our new Fellow, Caitlin Seandel, arrived this summer.  WMI's current Fellow, Kirsten Miner, wrapped up her time in Buyobo in August and headed back to the US to start grad school for her Master's in Public Health at UNC and we couldn't be more excited for her! She was a huge asset to the loan program during her year tenure, helping to navigate our first wholesale borrowing agreement with Postbank Uganda.  After graduation, she hopes to return to Uganda to continue her excellent work, which would be fantastic as everyone in the village is already looking
Kirsten (left) and Caitlin in Buyobo
forward to seeing her again, even if just for a visit. Best of luck Kirsten, we wish you the world!

WMI welcomes our 2017/2018 Fellow, Caitlin Seandel! Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area in California, she holds a B.A. from San Diego State in International Security and Conflict Resolution and a secondary degree in Women's Studies. During her time on campus she worked with minority rights organizations and developed a focus on human rights/social justice and international development. During a trip to Marrakesh while studying abroad in Spain, she became interested in issues impacting developing countries.  After graduation, Caitlin moved to Phnom Penh where she taught English for a year. While there, she also created and facilitated a women empowerment workshop for her peers through an organization called the Cambodian Arts and Scholarship Foundation.

Caitlin is joining WMI after being in tech sales in the Bay Area for 2 years. During this time she mastered lead development, headed up hiring and training, as well as operational improvement at the corporate level. Although she learned a lot in that role, Caitlin noted that, "My career in international development has been a long time coming and I am excited to be given the opportunity to work with BWA and WMI to continue to improve the great work with rural women that is already being accomplished!"

Women's Health Achievements in Tanzania 

WMI assists in sponsoring the Community Health Education Program (CHEP) in the Nainokanoka Community, where we are also involved in loan program operations for local Maasai women.  The CHEP outreach is managed by local Maasai and has spurred dramatic changes in health outcomes.  Some of the notable preventative care improvements are:
  • The percentage  of pregnant women receiving pre-natal care before the third trimester has gone from 26% to 92%. 
  • The percentage of children vaccinated has gone from 30% to 97%.
  • The percentage of women using family-planning methods has more than doubled from 24% to 52%.
Progress was also made in treatments, including:
  • The percentage of  children under the age of two who were treated for diarrhea with Oral Rehydration Salts nearly tripled, going from 35% to 98%.
  • The percentage of mothers with children under two who can properly prepare ORS increased from 5% to 42%.  
The percentage of pregnant women consuming three food groups has doubled from 5% to 10% but still highlights the need for more education in this area to overcome the tradition of restricting food to pregnant women for fear the baby will be too big to be born easily!  While there is still much more work to be done, the progress that the CHEP has achieved in improving health outcomes for rural women and their children is impressive and encouraging.


Buyobo Water Project Video


This summer the college interns took on the job of documenting the reconstruction of the water system in Buyobo that was supported by WMI, BWA, the Village Health Teams and Bradley Hills Presbyterian Church.  Their 5 minute final cut is terrific.  It illustrates the vital importance of clean water to the entire community and the difficulty of managing water systems in rural villages. Your critical financial support made this project possible and we're sure you'll enjoy watching! Watch Video

WMI Borrower Yearbook
One of the projects the college interns undertook was creating a Yearbook of BWA borrowers who wanted to provide an expanded view into their business operations and home life.  The women volunteered to participate in in-depth interviews and conduct tours of their businesses and homes.  Some of the women just started their businesses last year and some are experienced businesswomen who have become leaders in their communities and frequently mentor younger women who are just launching their businesses with their first loans.  The finishing touches are just being added to
 the Yearbook and it will be posted to the WMI website shortly.  Here is an introduction to one of the many accomplished village women who have developed viable businesses.

Esther's Story
Business: Clothing Tailoring and Coffee Sales 
Location: Bumunias, Uganda
Initial Loan: $80
Age: 23
Esther grew up in and currently resides in the Bumunias village. She is a single mother of one young daughter. For fun, Esther enjoys stitching clothes with her sewing machine. 

Esther joined WMI as a borrower in 2016. Before beginning with WMI, Esther was making around $46 a month selling extra tomatoes from her garden. However, this changed last year after a successful harvest enabled her to afford attending a vocational program which trained her in tailoring.   It was with this new skill that Esther sought a loan from WMI to start a clothing business. With the capital provided by WMI, Esther rented a storefront, bought a sewing machine, and acquired an initial stock of material for her store. It has been less than a year since she opened, but Esther has already seen success with a rapid growth in sales and profits.

Esther proudly reported that this new revenue from her sewing business has raised her monthly income to around $200 a month!   Nonetheless, achieving this success has not been without difficulty. In an attempt to reach more customers, Esther initially sold clothes to customers on credit. Customers continually failed to submit payments on time, with some failing to pay at all. This lack of revenue meant she was selling some clothes at a loss which was severely hurting the profits of her business. To keep her enterprise successful, Esther instituted a strict pay at purchase policy, which has since put her business back on track. Esther has also been challenged with low demand for clothing during the rainy season. To keep up clothing sales during such times, Esther lowers the price of her clothing (and searches out material to buy at discounts) and purchases more rainy season specific items to make her shop more competitive.

Also to ensure a sufficient income during these low sales seasons, Esther has used accumulated profits to start a small coffee business on the side. With this enterprise, she buys coffee in bulk from farmers for resale in smaller amounts. As her clothing shop is well-located in a popular market, so Esther is able to conduct coffee sales directly from the comfort of her clothing store! 

According to Esther, the income generated from her two businesses have brought her out of poverty and into a comfortable economic situation. Esther is now able to feed her daughter well and cover her medical visits. When her daughter is old enough for school, Esther will be able to afford to pay school fees. Presently, Esther is also paying for her younger sister to attend primary school.

When asked how the loan program has most impacted her, Esther responded that it has empowered her to operate successfully as a single parent.  Esther noted that through WMI's training, she has learned strong savings skills. It is with this new skill that she budgeted and saved enough of her profits to add the coffee line to her enterprise. She also maintains that the skills and knowledge she acquired during the training have enabled her to run and operate these businesses completely on her own, without the help of any family members or employees. As for WMI's community impact, Esther has noticed that overall the people in her village are healthier, specifically the borrowers and their families.  

Thank You!

WMI is extremely grateful for all of the support provided by our donors. Your commitment and thoughtfulness has allowed WMI to continue to expand and bring the benefits of economic opportunity to thousands and thousands of village women throughout East Africa.  

One of the most frequent refrains WMI President, Robyn Nietert, hears when she visits the far flung WMI loan hubs each year is: "Thank you for remembering rural women."  

A heartfelt thank you to every one for making our outreach to the rural women of East Africa a reality.
The WMI Board of Directors  
Robyn Nietert    Betsy Gordon    Deborah Smith     Jane Erickson  
      Terry Ciccotelli     Trix Vandervossen    June Kyakobye  
Contact Information
phone: 301-520-0865                   
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