March/April 2014            


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In This Update...

  • Next Wednesday, May 7 - Please Support WMI's Annual Matching Fundraiser
  • WMI Borrowers Stay in Business for the Long-Haul
  • 2013 Annual Report
  • WMI Collaborates with the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania
  • New Advisory Board Members
  • Atiak, Uganda Loan Hub office Nears Completion

May 7 - Please Support WMI's Annual Matching Fundraiser

Next Wednesday, MAY 7th, You Can Do It All!

1. Support WMI's annual Relax-At-Home Fundraiser

2. Increase your giving power by 30%

3. Celebrate the women in your life with a Mother's Day donation

This year WMI is holding a different type of annual fundraiser. Instead of a Potluck Dinner, relax at home, and just log into the Global Giving web site starting at 9 AM on Wednesday, May 7th and make a donation. Your donation will be increased by 30% through matched giving from the Global Giving Foundation.

Here's how it works: Global Giving has set aside $75,000 in matching funds for the May 7th Bonus Day. The Bonus Day begins at 9 am Washington, DC time (EST) on Wednesday, May 7. Matching is available on donations up to $1,000 and until funds run out. So please make your donation early in the day and please cap your donation at $1,000! Global Giving is also offering two $1,000 Bonus Day Awards: One award for most money raised and one award for most individual donors.   So WMI has the chance to benefit even more during this fundraising event.

Here is the link to the WMI project page on the Global Giving web site:

WMI Project on GG web site

If you have any problems you can go to the GG home page at globalgiving.org and just type WMI's project code, 2349, in the search window. This will take you to the WMI project page.

WHY support WMI? WMI delivers critical financial services to marginalized rural women in a format that has very low overhead and demonstrated impact results. We are effective, committed and multi-faceted so that your donations return a triple bottom line: poor women get the capital, training and support they need to start businesses; banks make fundamental changes to serve WMI loan program graduates; and, rural women leaders are groomed to become advocates for themselves, their families and their communities.

WHO are the WMI borrowers? They are moms, daughters, sisters, aunts and community role models - just like you and your family members. But they are struggling with the challenge of providing and caring for their families in the impoverished rural villages of East Africa, where they have no real access to financial services, no jobs and no support services. They use the resources WMI offers to improve their homes with cement floors and tin roofs, pay school fees, buy medicine for their children and create a better life for themselves and their families. They are responsible, smart and determined - their number one priority is improving the living standard for their families.

Join us! Please mark Wednesday, May 7th at 9 AM EST as your day to make your contribution to WMI.



 WMI Borrowers Stay in Business for the Long-Haul

Where will you find a rural woman who took out a loan from WMI over five years ago? Why, at her business, of course!

WMI began loan program operations in 2008 in the village of Buyobo, Uganda. During the last three months WMI followed up with the first 120 women who received WMI loans. Just over 98% of women are still operating businesses after 5 years! (Excluding the 12 women who died, moved, retired or are too ill to work).

These are extraordinary results by any measure. WMI is able to track the women's business status because we are a village-level program. We know our borrowers and have an operating continuity that allows for close observation of the loan program's impact.


2013 Annual Report

WMI's Annual report is now posted on the WMI web site. You can find it on the Home page or click here to review: WMI 2013 Annual Report

We hope you will be as impressed with the results as we were.

This year WMI almost doubled in size, adding over 1,850 new borrowers (4,250 in total) and issued 4,900 loans amounting to $707,000, at an average of $150 per loan. To date, WMI has issued 11,000 loans totaling $1.6 million.

WMI assisted 11 additional groups of women in their transition to independent banking in Uganda, providing them support and working with PBU to ensure a smooth graduation to the formal economy. Thirteen groups moved from the transition program to fully independent banking, bringing the total to 1,060 graduates of the WMI loan program.

WMI continues to expand the loan program quarterly, adding 40-60 borrowers quarterly per loan hub. A total of 1,850 new borrowers joined the loan program.

 Three hubs have now reached "sustainability" and no longer require WMI's financial support. Their loan funds have been fully funded to support 16 borrower groups and the hubs generate sufficient income to cover operating expenses.


WMI Collaborates with the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania

At the invitation of Keith W Weigelt, the Marks-Darivoff Family Professor at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, WMI's President, Robyn Nietert, taught a session on WMI's loan program platform to Prof. Weigelt's Strategies for Economic Inclusion class. While the class was aware of conventional approaches to microfinance, the students were intrigued to learn about WMI's village-level model and unique economic approach to transition loan program graduates to independent banking after two years.  After learning about WMI's economic model and local operations, two teams of Wharton students volunteered to handle two separate projects for WMI.

The first team of students, Kathleen Simon, Adriana Saman and Saloni Gupta presented a 21-page PowerPoint guideline to improving and updating the WMI web site, complete with illustrations showing how each page should be organized to maximize content and impact.  This was an in-depth, professional presentation. WMI's summer interns will follow up on the web site revisions and updates.

The second team, consisting of: Tat-seng Chiam, Archna Agrawal, Emily Crowell, Nicholas Mushaike, took on the job of researching and contacting potential banking partners for our loan hubs in Tanzania, as well as developing a list of local service providers with whom WMI could potentially partner to offer more resources to the loan hubs. They performed brilliantly. Through their efforts, WMI is now negotiating with Post Bank Tanzania to provide financial services to our loan program graduates in that country. They also located a potential financial literacy training partner in Kenya.

These teams provided valuable input to WMI's operations and we are grateful for their thorough and creative approach to the projects they handled. WMI was invited to develop projects for new teams during the fall semester and we are looking forward to working with Wharton students in the future.


New Advisory Board Members

WMI is fortunate to be able to access the expertise of many highly qualified professionals who volunteer their time as a part of the Advisory Board. We are very happy to add two very extremely capable individuals to the ranks of those supporting our loan program operations.

Olive Namutebi, Kampala, Uganda is the managing internal auditor for PostBank Uganda. She has 12 years of financial management experience, three of which are in the field of microfinance and four years in managing partnerships implementing donor funded programs. Olive has worked with several Government entities on programs to implement financial inclusion and economic development. She has also worked with several research projects on different matters pertaining to development. These include consulting with the Bank of Uganda on financial literacy; consume protection and youth inclusiveness. Olive held the post of Strategic Planning in the bank prior to her current position. She was project manager for a Bill and Melinda Gates funded program at the bank -the financial service for the poor project - overseen by the World Savings Banks Institute (WSBI) which steers the project deliverables. She has worked with many other development partners including, United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), CGAP, and Global Banking Alliance for Women. Having worked with a global energy company (Chevron), Olive understands the dynamics of multi cultural and global business perspectives. This experience is broadened by working with an NGO championing disadvantaged children - Uganda Society for Disabled Children. She graduated from Makerere University, Kampala in 2001 and from Zenith Business College, Kampala in 2006.

Brenda Hansen, Bethesda, MD is general counsel at Microvest Capital Management, LLC. She has twenty five years' experience in the areas of SME lending and microfinance, international structured and corporate finance, including cross-border leasing, banking, and asset-backed loan transactions. As general counsel to a registered investment advisor in the microfinance space, she is responsible for fund governance, SEC compliance and global investment. Previously, she was senior counsel at a multi-national corporation, responsible for international strategic partnerships and corporate governance and compliance issues. She is experienced and skilled in complex legal and financial analysis and writing. Ms. Hansen is also trained as facilitator and mediator with experience in the areas of human rights, discrimination, and public housing. She is a graduate of University of Virginia and University of Virginia Law School and was a Law Clerk at U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.



Atiak, Uganda Loan Hub Office and Meeting Center Nears Completion


Twelve hours from Kampala and just ten miles from the South Sudan border you will find the WMI loan

hub in Atiak.  Started in 2012, it has
expanded steadily and will start graduating its first borrowers to independent banking this year. Based on the demand for loans and training from ladies throughout the area, WMI has undertaken the construction of a building in the village. A local school donated the land and villagers are  donating bags of cement. Former WMI Resource Fellow, Hannah Kahl, and the Martha's Vineyard based non-profit she started, Local Women/Global Mission, raised half of the funds for the building.  It is well underway and should be ready by the summer, much to the delight of the ladies who are looking forward to occupying a business operations home of their own






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. 


Please don't forget to donate on Wednesday, May 7th!





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