March/April 2017             







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In This Update...

  • Matching Funds for WMI's Annual Fundraising Campaign - Mother's Day Week-End
  • Girls Groups Empower the Next Generation 
  • Tanzania Loan Hub Graduation Celebration
  • The Cordes Foundation Team and Global Giving Visit WMI's HQ in Uganda
  • In Memory of Ed Shea
  • Construction of New WMI Collection Center Pavilions Underway
Matching Available for Donations during WMI's Annual Mother's Day Campaign
To honor the women that WMI serves, we have scheduled WMI's annual giving campaign for Mother's Day week-end, May 13 and 14.  During those two days we hope you will have a chance to take a few minutes to make a donation to WMI so that we can continue the important outreach services WMI provides to East African village women and their families.

WMI is delighted to announce that all donations made during this 2017 annual giving campaign will be matched 25%!  On Mother's Day week-end, your donation dollars will go even further and have more impact in fighting rural poverty. Donations can be made via the WMI website: Donate here  

Individual donations comprise just over 50% of WMI's annual income.  Your support over the years has been a critical factor in making the WMI loan program a success.  Thank you for your kindness and your commitment to WMI's ongoing mission of changing the face of rural poverty, one loan at a time. 
Girls Groups Empower the Next Generation
WMI has started girl empowerment groups in both its Uganda and Tanzania loan hubs.  Working with a
Girls Groups meeting in Buyobo, Uganda
local teacher, the groups give the girls a chance to bond, learn about enterprise and healthy relationships, and discuss career aspirations. The girls really seem to enjoy their weekly meetings, but we didn't know how much until this past week when our resource Fellow in Tanzania, Jess Boughton, reported that she had scheduled a break for the Easter holidays.
"The girls group teacher had requested to take the Easter holiday off from Girls Group. We informed the driver that he would not be needed for those two weeks. I had arranged to do a little guitar tutoring with some different children at the school over the holiday so had been going there for a couple of hours each day this last week.

On the Wednesday I was getting ready to leave the school when the car arrived with our teacher and the girls that come for the meetings from outside of the local Tloma area. The teacher explained to me that the girls had been so unhappy at the idea of not having the group for those two weeks that she ended up calling the driver independently.  She had not informed us and had even planned on paying him out of her pocket for that day as she hadn't wanted to mix us up. I sat in for the class and it is more apparent than ever how much the girls love the class. All girls attended, despite it being a school holiday for them. The teacher is also noticeably more laid back and no longer completely dependent on her notes...I am very confident in her abilities and the girls all really enjoy and respect her."

WMI is very pleased to be able to organize and host the Girls Group outreach.  It is supported by the income from the local loan program.  This is one of the many positive, ancillary impacts the loan program has on the local community. It is a way WMI can invest in educating the next generation of rural, women entrepreneurs.
Tanzania Loan Hub Graduation Celebration

The long-anticipated day finally arrived for Ganako Women's Community Organization (GWOCO), WMI's Tanzanian partner. The ladies of Karatu, Tanzania celebrated their very first graduation ceremony in great style  with much singing, dancing and a plentiful supply of pilau.

Five groups from two different loan hubs attended the event with a total of 60 ladies. The three Tanzanian staff members also graduated and joyfully accepted their certificates and savings from the guest of honor, Judy Lane, a founding sponsor of GWOCO.

The ladies leaving the program have made room for 4 new groups. These new groups received their first loans just in time to prepare their businesses for the Easter rush. GWOCO staff are now excitedly awaiting the coming repayment days to hear about the progress of the new groups during their first month in the program. 

The Cordes Foundation and Global Giving Pay A Visit to WMI HQ in Uganda

Nearly 10 years ago, the Cordes Foundation saw the potential in the WMI loan program.  In the summer of 2008, WMI had just made its 80th loan.  After meeting with founder Ron Cordes and explaining our unique economic platform and model for self-sustainability, WMI was awarded a grant of $7,500 to secure a 5-year stipend for Local Program Director, Olive Wolimbwa.  It was a pivotal moment for WMI - that funding gave us the confidence to continue adding new loan groups and expand operations.  Two years ago the Cordes Foundation awarded WMI a follow up grant which provided major funding for the construction of our 500-seat pavilion at our largest loan hub in Buyobo, Uganda. 

So it was with great pleasure that the WMI team welcomed Ron, his wife, Marty, and their daughter, Stephanie, as well as the Foundation's portfolio director, Eric Stephenson, to Buyobo, Uganda on Easter week-end.  The Cordes team had a chance to review the loan program's operations, inspect the pavilion and the plaque honoring the Foundation's support, and visit several WMI-funded businesses, including two private primary schools.  It was a wonderful opportunity for our local staff to meet face-to-face with key donors who have helped make the loan program a reality.

Just a few days after the Codes team left for Rwanda, WMI's local staff hosted the new Field Traveler for Global Giving (GG) in East Africa, Mikey Rothwell. GG is a non-profit, web-based funding platform for global outreach programs.  

WMI has had a continual presence on GG for over 8 years, raising over $200,000 through their funding platform and receiving another $44,000 in challenge/matching grant funds.   It was a pleasure to be able to introduce Mikey to WMI's operations on the ground and show him how the loan program is improving household living standards for rural families.

 After his visit Mikey commented that, "T he Women's Microfinance Initiative has helped thousands of women in Uganda and beyond by providing them with the skills and funds necessary to make them independent. By helping these women, WMI's dedicated team is improving both their families and entire local communities."

In Memory of Ed Shea
WMI is enormously grateful to the family and friends of Ed Shea who have made recent donations to WMI in honor of his amazing life.

Ed spent over 30 years living and working abroad, with most of those years involved in providing humanitarian relief. Based out of Nairobi, Kenya, Ed was the Eastern Africa regional director for the International Red Cross.  He had also worked for various other non-governmental organizations, including:the Peace Corps the Red Cross; CARE; and, Catholic Relief Services in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. No stranger to conflict areas, he spent more than a decade in Africa, with positions in Angola, Burundi, Somalia, Liberia and Sudan.

Sadly, he was severely injured in a bicycle accident that left him a quadriplegic and recently claimed his life.  Even after his injury, Ed continued to help others by working with former colleagues to assist in the preparation of grant requests for aid and disaster relief around the world.  

Ed was a big supporter of WMI's mission and asked that WMI be remembered as his memorial. Since his passing earlier this year WMI has received numerous donations to honor Ed, for which we are truly thankful.  A tribute appears on the Honor Roll section of the WMI website.

WMI Adds Another Collection Center Pavillion in Sironko District, Uganda

The Sironko District in Uganda, where WMI's HQ is located, continues to expand operations with the steady addition of new loan groups each year.  In order to accommodate this growth, WMI is planning to add 2 new collection center pavilions in the District to serve the Buusita and Zesui areas.  Using the high quality service of WMI's long-time builder, SAWE Contractors, and its owner Sam Wesomoyo, construction of the first pavilion, in Buusita, is well underway.  It will be finished before the heavy rains of the summer months make some of the roads impassable.  Construction on the second pavilion will start in September and will be completed by the end of the year!



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 everyone for making our outreach to the rural women of East Africa a reality.



The WMI Board of Directors 


Robyn Nietert          rgnietert@aol.com  

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

June Kyakobye        jgkyakobye@yahoo.com

Trix Vandervossen   trixvdv55@gmail.com 

Jane Erickson          ericksonjn@verizon.net
Terry Ciccotelli         terryciccotelli@gmail.com 
Contact Information
phone: 301-520-0865                   
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