Olive Wolimbwa,

WMI's Local Director




    May/ June 2011       wmionline.org






In This Update:




In this issue:

  • The Greater Contribution's key partnership with WMI
  • US interns arrive in Uganda
  • Bethesda summer interns hard at work
  • Donated eyeglasses arrive in Buyobo
  • New loan hub preparing to launch in Shikokho, KY
  • IMF Civic Program generously supports WMI
  • WMI 50 cocktail party a success 


The Greater Contribution Supports WMI


WMI is very pleased to have the support of The Greater Contribution, a non-profit organization in California, in its mission of bringing microfinance opportunities to impoverished women. WMI began working with TGC in 2010. Since that time, the organization has generously contributed over $56,000 to WMI's loan program.


Founded in 2006, TGC has funded over 3,000 microloans in Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi and Haiti in partnership with other loan programs. We recently chatted with TGC president Karon Wright about her organization's philosophy and goals.


Karon Wright, above, is  President of The Greater 



When TGC was launched in 2006, it did not have a primary emphasis on microfinance. It started out with a much broader program aimed at

 poverty reduction. Over the years, the organization narrowed its focus to microfinance.


"We believe microfinance is one of the most effective ways to combat poverty," Wright said in a recent phone interview.


Wright has worked as an Organizational Effectiveness consultant since before she founded TGC, and finds that many of the skills she used for the job have translated over into her philanthropic career.


"Because people aren't paid for volunteer work, they really have to get something out of it," she said. "You have to be sensitive to what motivates volunteers."


TGC aims to become a national organization, and ultimately hopes to fund as may microloans as possible.


Wright visited WMI's Buyobo loan hub in March of 2010 and said she was amazed at the "incredible gratitude" of the women in the village.


"I was amazed at how excited they are to move themselves out of poverty," she said. She added that the visit reinforced her sense of the injustice of poverty.


"Half the world is struggling to live on less than two dollars a day, and that shouldn't be happening," she said. "I think in order to live really ethical lives, we've all got to make a contribution."


WMI looks forward to continuing to collaborate on strategy and loan program expansion plans with TGC's support.


WMI Interns Arrive in Buyobo, Uganda!

The interns all dressed up for a graduation ceremony.

Walt Whitman High and Georgetown Day School students  wear  traditional dress in Buyobo.

June in Buyobo was a busy time. The village welcomed several new interns during the month, including students from Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, MD and Georgetown Day School in Washington, DC; George Washington University anthropology professor John Finch; and, recent college graduates Erin Kelly (UMich) and Jackie Vouthouris. The villagers were happy to have so many new visitors coming to support their community.


The high school interns arrived with WMI board member,June Kyakobye on June 18 and were quickly put to work. The interns decorated the classrooms begun by last year's Whitman interns, which the adult interns had cleaned and pre-painted earlier in June. The beautiful and educational new designs include flowers, body parts, crocodiles, fish and a detailed map of Africa.


The interns played soccer with the village kids.
The interns play soccer with the village kids after a hard day of work. 


The interns may have been busy, but they still found time to bond with kids in the village. The interns played an intense soccer game with students from the primary school, several of whom were also very interested in the interns' digital cameras. Though the language was a bit of a barrier, the interns and kids were able to communicate through hand motions and facial expressions. And when it was time to shower after the game, the interns had a new place to go: June's mom's house was finished just in time.


Nalini teaches math to P6 students.

Nalini helps a girl complete a math problem in a P6 class.

John Finch, an anthropology professor, and Montana Stevenson work on the internet cafe. 


Adult interns arrived earlier in the month with their own projects. John Finch worked to improve the Internet caf´┐Ż set up by last summer's Whitman interns. He also conducted interviews in the village to begin piecing together

a history of Buyobo.


Erin is working on publicity for WMI, interviewing borrowers and their families to create a "Day in the Life" film about the loan program's effects in Buyobo. She is also working on a microfinance booklet for the children's library at the Buyobo Primary School. 


Jackie continued Local Director, Oliave Wolimbwa's training on Excel, which Olive will use to update and automate her expense reports. Jackie is also developing an account register for the BWA staff to track their deposits and withdrawals. In an effort to increase literacy rates in the village, Jackie met with local trainers to discuss the development of an Adult Literacy program. 




Data Entry, Website Updating, and more: Bethesda Interns have been busy this summer!



Back Row Left to Right- Victoria Stevenson, Tim Freeman, Dana Max. Bottom Row-Cody Bear, Layne Schwab, Emily Hyson, Phoebe Sanderson, Michael Pearson

WMI's Bethesda college interns started work on June 1. They've compiled survey data from the past year and undertaken extensive statistical analysis of the information gathered. Soon they'll begin making "fact books" that help evaluate the loan program's impact in the villages.


High School interns Sarah Cutler and Caroline Guiot



Later in June, Sarah Cutler and Caroline Guiot began working as high school interns. These rising seniors at Whitman High School have 

been applying fogrants and awards, updating the website, and managing WMI's media collection. They recently submitted 20 photos to a microfinance photo contest.




WMI: Now a Loan Program with (20/20) Vision


Over the course of the first two weeks in June, WMI collected eyeglasses for the ladies in the village. The donation boxes were set up at Whitman High School, Pyle Middle School, and other Bethesda/Chevy Chase locations, and were filled by extremely generous donors. In total, WMI collected over 500 pairs of glasses!


The Whitman interns brought the eyeglasses with them from the USA. When they arrived in the village, some of the interns worked to sort the glasses into reading and distance glasses.


The ladies were thrilled with the glasses, and enjoyed the process of finding the perfect fit. They used an eye chart to determine which glasses were closest to their prescriptions. Teachers were offered first pick of the glasses and greatly appreciated the opportunity to have a chance to correct their vision. 



WMI to Open New Loan Hub in Shikokho, Kenya


WMI will open a new loan hub in Shikokho, Kenya, in July.  WMI began working with the Shikohko Women's Group through the Chevy Chase Presbyterian Church, which partnered with the women's group in 1995 to create a medical clinic. The majority of Shikokho residents live on less than a dollar a day, and there is a 40% literacy rate in the area. 


WMI's US liaison to the Siaya, Kenya loan group, located about 100 miles from Shikokho, is Elizabeth Ongao of the Eastern African Center for Progressive Development.  Elizabeth travels to Siaya annually to oversee loan program operations. She is currently there through July 15 and will visit Shikokho to orient the women's group and discuss loan program operations. Subsequently, WMI's local director in Uganda will travel to Shikokho with a team of trainers from Buyobo and Siaya to launch the loan program at the end of July. 


IMF Civic Program Supports WMI for the Second Year In A Row


On May 13th , the IMF Civic Program announced its decision to give WMI a $12,500 grant based on WMI's submission of its unique economic model for combating poverty. This was the second grant WMI received from the program; the first was a $10,000 grant in 2010.


The IMF Civic Program supports grants to non-profit organizations working to help the poorest and most disadvantaged emerge from very low-income, socially dependent, and other detrimental and dysfunctional situations. IMF Civic Program funds are for humanitarian purposes only and are separate from the IMF's financial support for member countries and policy programs. 



WMI 50 COCKTAIL PARTY - Good Friends, Good Food, Good Cause


WMI Advisory Board member Beth Tomacello hosted the biannual "WMI 50" cocktail party at her home on May 22. It was a lovely evening. WMI supporters had a chance to socialize and sample delicious homemade treats. The WMI 50 is a group of WMI supporters who have committed to donate $250 a year for two years to the loan program. The party provided WMI donors with the opportunity to learn more about the organization's operations in a more intimate setting.  WMI is grateful to Beth for opening up her home for this festive occasion.




Thank you for all you have done and continue to do for the women and families who benefit from the WMI loan program.  WMI's success is a result of your efforts. Your ongoing interest and support is helping to change the face of poverty, one loan at a time.



The WMI Board of Directors



Robyn Nietert  rgnietert@aol.com
Betsy Gordon betsygord@mac.com
Deborah Smith deborahwsmith@yahoo.com
June Kyakobye junekyaks@verizon.net
Trix Vandervossen bvandervossen@imf.org
Jane Erickson ericksonjn@verizon.net
Terry Ciccotelli teresa.t.ciccotelli@saint-gobain.com