May/June 2014            


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In This Update...

  • 95% Success Rate for WMI Businesses Started in 2008
  • College Interns in Residence in USA and East Africa 
  • Tanzania Loan Hub Expands Activities
  • WMI Brings 14th Loan Hub On Line: Buseesa, Uganda
  • Konkoyi Loan Hub Cow Goes for $325!
  • In Remembrance of Robert Nietert and Len Kolsky

95% Success Rate for WMI Businesses Started in 2008

WMI's first loan cycle began in January 2008 with just 20 village women in Buyobo, Uganda. Additional borrowers were added each quarter until, by the end of 2008, a total of 120 women had received loans and training. The first borrowers graduated from the program in 2010. All were given an opportunity to transition to independent banking with PostBank Uganda. Since their launch over six year ago, 18 businesses have closed because the borrower had passed away, moved out of the area, was too ill to work, or had returned to school. 


Of the 107 original borrowers from 2008 who were still in the village and able to work in 2014, a total of 102 were still operating their businesses - a 95% success rate! The U.S. Small Business Administration reports that only about half of new businesses survive five years or more. Only about a third survives more that 10 years. The ladies in Buyobo have far surpassed the five year business survival rate. They are entering their seventh year of business operations and at their current rate, they are poised to exceed the ten year business survival rate by almost 200%! We believe this impressive success rate is due in large measure to WMI's unique village-level approach to microfinance. Check out the full Report


 College Interns in Residence in USA and East Africa


Uganda Interns Amanda Conklin and Morgan Nelson
Amanda Conklin and Morgan Nelson are the 2014 college summer interns at the WMI office in Buyobo, Uganda. Amanda is from Huntington, New York and is going into her sophomore year at the University of Notre Dame. She is studying International Economics and International Development. Morgan is from Key West, Florida and is entering her junior year at Princeton University.  She is interested in journalism/ international development and majoring in Politics. Both have worked with microfinance in the past and are excited to be in Buyobo working with the loan hubs to help improve financial literacy among administrators. They will also continue the longitudinal study of the first 120 borrowers in the loan program and create a new program video.
WMI also has two summer interns in Shikokho, Kenya: Elizabeth Sidamon-Eristoff and Kaylee Lucas. They are working with WMI's partner, Shikokho Chanuka CBO, to train women in computer use, create budgets/accounting systems and expand program operations.  Elizabeth majored in Peace and Conflicts Studies at Colgate University. She graduated in 2013 and subsequently participated in a selective post-graduate intensive business seminar called The Fullbridge Program to learn the basics of business terminology and organization. Kaylee was a Religious Studies major at the Univ. of Virginia and just graduated in 2014.  She studied collective identity issues which help make microfinance and borrowing groups successful.  

WMI's six summer college interns are now in residence in Bethesda. They will focus on analyzing the data collected from loan program participants during the past year. In particular, they will track the progress of Masaai women in rural Tanzania who have been in the loan program for over a year. The interns will also streamline WMI's data collection procedures in rural villages. They will also implement updates to the WMI web site as well as extend WMI's social media outreach.  This summer's interns include: 

L to r: Karynne Campbell, Jenna Foster, Carolyn Freeman; Back row - l to r: Rianna Aylward, Dira Djaya, Micheal Rosenberg
  • Karynne Campbell (Silver Spring, MD), a rising sophomore at Tufts University, majoring in Economics and Psychology and minoring in Entrepreneurial Leadership.  
  • Rianna Aylward (Wellesley, MA), a rising junior at Wellesley College, is majoring in economics and minoring in English.  
  • Carolyn Freeman (Bethesda, MD), a rising sophomore at Boston College, double majoring in Economics and English. 
  • Jenna Foster (Fairfax, VA), a rising sophomore at Virginia Tech, where she plans to major in Business Finance and minor in International Business.   
  • Michael Rosenberg (Bethesda, MD), a rising sophomore at Carnegie Mellon University, where he plans to major in an applied math field.
  • Dira Djaya (Rockville, MD), a rising junior at Tufts University, majoring in Economics with a minoring in Colonialism Studies.

Tanzania Loan Hub Expands Activities

WMI's Tanzania loan hub partners with several non-profit initiatives launched by Judy Lane in the National Conservation Area (NCA) and villages surrounding Karatu, in the northern central area of the country. WMI is actively seeking a banking partner in Tanzania to begin the transition of the first borrowers there to financial independence next year.
WMI team and TPB team discuss group bank loans for WMI borrowers

In April, students at the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business initiated contact with Tanzania Postal Bank (TPB) on WMI's behalf. Judy and WMI's team from Uganda, who had traveled to Tanzania to conduct new borrower training, were able to meet with TPB in May.
Bernadethe Gogadi
TPB's Director of Strategic Planning, Bernadethe Gogadi, traveled from TPB headquarters in Dar es Salaam to Karatu for the meeting. Ms. Gogadi is an economist with 29 years of experience in government and banking and an extensive background in microfinance and risk analysis. She has a clear understanding of the population WMI serves and their special needs in transitioning to mainstream banking.


The new borrower group in Buger village, TZ during business training
WMI's Local Program Director, Olive Wolimbwa, and Assistant Local Program Director, Jackline Nemonye, made the two-day trip from Uganda to Tanzania to train the new group of rural women who joined the WMI loan program.  
The new borrowers are from the village of Buger, about an hour from Karatu. They were extremely attentive and enthusiastic during the two-day training session in a local primary school.  


While in Tanzania, Judy presided at the dedication of a new kindergarten built in Alailelai Village in one of WMI's Tanzania loan hubs, with funding from our partner, Ngorongoro Community Network, Inc. and

contributions from the villagers.   

A kindergarten built with community funding.


We are particularly proud of the money raised by the women from our loan program. The village contributions came to $2,750 in cash and $690 in cement, roofing materials and goats and sheep.This is an excellent example of the resourcefulness of the local communities where WMI operates loan programs.



WMI Brings 14th Loan Hub On Line: Buseesa, Uganda

Training for new borrowers in WMI/BCDC partnership
WMI is pleased to report that our special project with the Busessa Community Development Centre (BCDC) in Kibaale District, Uganda has reached full-fledged loan hub status with its launch of WMI's Transition to Independence Program with PostBank Uganda (PBU). BCDC joined the WMI family a year ago. It originally offered a similar business loan and training model, but founder and director Nick Smith realized his program was not complete without a long-term sustainability and transition program. He learned about WMI through a mutual connection at the World Bank. 
In 2013, WMI funded a pilot loan program with BCDC and in April 2014, BCDC began transitioning 15 borrowers from BCDC microcredit loans to credit from PBU. WMI recently made a second grant to help BCDC expand to two new villages - Kakindo and Kiryabicooli - and fund loans for 90 additional women.
BCDC had a particular goal in mind when bringing microcredit services to Kakindo and Kiryabicooli: improve agricultural production. The loans will fund improvements that will in turn increase revenue streams  that can be used to secure access to healthcare, education and improvements in nutrition. The concentration of borrowers in these two villages will make it easier for PBU to serve them. By organizing a critical mass of rural borrowers into loan groups, BCDC can help coordinate village efforts to maintain the rough jungle road to their villages and to bring in more traders to secure better prices during the harvest. Welcome to our 14th hub!

Konkoyi Loan Hub Cow Goes for $325


Rose Namome is a member of Yellow Colour Group in the Konokoyi loan hub in northeast Uganda. She is 38 years old, married with 9 children (5 girls and 4 boys). When Rose learned about the WMI Program in 2013, she asked if she could be registered in the group. Her first loan made it possible for her to start a small business of selling charcoal and green vegetables. 

She set aside $30 in savings from her first loan.  From her second loan (taken 6 months later), she saved $70. Added to her original $30 set aside, the $100 was enough to buy a young bull in January. Recently, she got another follow up loan of $200 and is now making a steady profit from her business. She decided to expand a side business of frying chips out of cassava and Irish potatoes, and recently sold her prize bull for nearly $325! Rose's experience shows how rural women learn how to plan and prioritize decisions for their businesses as they gain experience through the loan program.

In Remembrance of Robert Nietert and Len Kolsky



Within the past few months, WMI lost two of its staunchest supporters in the untimely deaths of Robert Nietert, father of WMI founder and president, Robyn Niertert, and Len Kolsky, husband of WMI's great friend, Liz Sachs. 
Bob Nietert was a native New Yorker who attended Brooklyn Tech High School and College, where he earned a degree in mechanical engineering. After a stint in the Army teaching bomb disposal techniques to officers, he worked on the space shuttle program and on nuclear submarine drawings for the U.S.      Special Projects Office. In the 1970s, he became one of the country's first Sky Marshals and then spent the last 10 years of his career as an import specialist for the U.S. Customs Service. After retiring, he raised and raced thoroughbred horses on his farm in Maryland. He also resided in Largo, FL where he was active in church outreach activities for the homeless. 

He and his wife Eileen provided support and encouragement to Robyn and her colleagues as they researched the microfinance sector and filed the first documents to incorporate WMI back in the fall of 2007. Bob closely followed all of Robyn's trips to Africa and was always eager for a detailed debriefing upon her return. He was WMI's biggest cheerleader and spread the word about the loan program to his many acquaintances. His efforts resulted in many donations and new WMI supporters. His kindness and thoughtfulness are missed by all who knew him. 

Len Kolsky was a pioneer in the world of wireless communications. A graduate of Amherst College and Georgetown Law School, he spent the bulk of his career (34 years) at Motorola until he retired in 1998. His position as director of domestic and international regulatory affairs for the company meant he played an instrumental role in creating the cellular telephone industry. His marriage 25 years ago to Liz Sachs, an attorney specializing in wireless issues, created a telecom dynasty. Together, Len and Liz were two of WMI's earliest supporters. They responded to our initial fundraising drive in the spring of 2008 - when WMI had made just 20 loans and was looking to raise money to issue another 20 loans - and continued to support the program throughout the years as we now close in on issuing 15,000 loans. 

Over the years, Len developed a genuine interest in how impoverished women could manage to turn a small loan and some training into businesses that could support their families. Although he enjoyed many career successes in an extremely competitive field, he still marveled at the success WMI borrowers achieved in rural villages. He was a very compassionate person whose intelligence, wit and zest for living will be sorely missed. 

WMI is extremely grateful for the numerous donations made in honor of Bob and Len. The remembrances posted by friends and family can be found on the WMI web site in the section entitled In Honor Of... 








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.





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