May/June 2015            




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In This Update...

  • WMI Summer Interns in Residence
  • Walls Go Up on New Pavilion at WMI Headquarters in Buyobo, Uganda
  • Partnership with Lewa Wildlife Conservancy's MF Program in Kenya
  • Health Series Seminars Organized for WMI Borrowers in Tanzania
  • Capstone Students' Documentary on WMI Available on Web Site
  • Canadian College Students Visit WMI Loan Program in Kabale, Uganda
  • Successful Spring Cocktail Reception for WMI Supporters



WMI College Interns Take Up Residence in Bethesda and Buyobo

Back row: L to R, Simon, Lucas, Eric, Seated: L to R, Caitaln and Beki

For the eighth summer in a row, college interns have taken up residence in both Bethesda, MD and Buyobo, Uganda to assist in managing WMI loan program operations. In Bethesda, five interns hailing from University of Virginia, American University, Boston College and Pepperdine University are on hand to analyze data collected throughout the year from loan program participants. The interns will digitize all of the data and prepare fact books to show the loan program's impact in improving household living conditions and empowering women to become financially independent. 

Simon Amat (Potomac, MD) is a rising sophomore at UVa., where he plans to enter the McIntire School of Commerce, along with working on a double major in Spanish. Lucas Karron (Bethesda, MD) is a rising junior at BC, majoring in Economics. Caitlin Kennedy (Harrisburg, PA) is a rising senior at AU where she is double majoring in International Development and Economics and focusing on Africa. Eric Rogers (Rockville, MD) is a rising sophomore at Pepperdine, majoring in finance. Beki San Martin (Washington, DC) is a rising junior at UVa with a major in English and a minor in Global Sustainability. 

L to R: Jing, Merida, Abby in Buyobo

On June 1, Jing Xie, a native of China, and Abigail Gellman, a native New Yorker, both students at Princeton University, arrived for a two month internship in Buyobo, Uganda. This year these field interns will focus on interviewing women in the loan program and learning about the program's subtle impacts on household living standards and improving future opportunities for the children of borrowers. They will prepare media presentations that convey the loan program's impact and communicate the changes in the communities where the program operates. They will also work on improving office management operations, including helping to train the new office secretary, Merida, who started for her first day of work at the same time as the interns.



Walls Going Up On New Pavilion At WMI Headquarters in Buyobo, Uganda

Though spring rained slowed the pavilion construction progress for a few weeks, the precipitation finally abated and the walls of the pavilion are now going up quickly. The picture on the left was taken in May when the ground had just been broken for construction of the pavilion, which will be located adjacent to the WMI office building. The picture on the right was taken at the end of June. As the walls rise, so does the community's anticipation for this new addition to the WMI campus.   It will serve both as a loan collection/training facility for the thousands of women served from the Buyobo loan hub and also as a community gathering space for village social and educational events.


WMI Partners With Lewa Wildlife Conservancy MF Program in Kenya 




Communications with our central Kenyan programs at NgareNdare and

2013 lewa
Robyn Nietert, Center, with Lewa's Head of Community Development, John Kinoti and his assistant, Purity Mwende

Ntumburi has been difficult given the remote nature of the Laikepia Plateau area, very limited wireless access and erratic transportation, particularly in the rainy season. There is also a language barrier. English is not as widely spoken there as in our Western Kenya loan hubs - to maximize their effectiveness, our loan hub leaders need communications translated into their local languages. To resolve this issue and create a larger impact, WMI recently expanded its operations in the region by partnering with another local organization, the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, which also has a microfinance outreach for the local women who live in the rural villages surrounding the Conservancy.   As a complement to its wildlife preservation efforts, one of its goals is to reduce poaching by improving the local economy and the livelihoods of rural women.


Lewa is headquartered locally and has built an infrastructure of local professionals who speak native

Pamela Kilua

languages and who have access to reliable communications and transportation. Because Lewa has extensive contacts throughout the Laikepia region, our partnership means we can more effectively identify target village areas for loan program expansion to serve more rural businesswomen. WMI's field liaisons in these loan hubs will continue to provide us with information and insights in the lives of village women in the area. You may remember the poignant, short biography written by Pamela Kilua when we launched loan operations in her village of NgareNdare. Pamela BioWe plan on continuing to provide similar reports from the field so that WMI supporters can stay in touch with the lives of the women we serve.


Health Series Seminars Organized for WMI Borrowers in Tanzania








WMI has partnered with FAME (Foundation for African Medicine and Education) to provide a 6 part health education series to the women in our loan hub in Tloma village, located in rural north central Tanzania. We believe that women's health and education is intrinsically tied to their ability to manage their businesses effectively. WMI is continuing to implement programs that increase rural women's access to health/education opportunities. During a loan repayment day, women will be able to sign up to attend seminars on the following important health topics:









Capstone Students' Documentary on WMI Available on Web Site







In the last Update, we reported that a team of young women who were seniors at the Bullis School in

Robyn Nietert with Capstone students and their advisor.

Potomac, MD elected to study microfinance during the academic year and with WMI's Robyn Nietert as their mentor, they prepared a documentary about microfinance as their Capstone Project.  That documentary, featuring WMI's unique economic platform and village-level approach, was debuted before the entire student body of the upper school. 


The documentary is now linked on the WMI web site and we invite everyone to take a look at the fine film that these students have produced. It does a terrific job of demonstrating the lasting impact microfinance can have in improving the lives of rural women and their families. Documentary



Capstone Students' Documentary on WMI Available on Web Site

Canadian college students in Kabale.

In early May, WMI's loan hub in Kabale, Uganda was host to a group of visiting college students from Ambrose University in Calgary, Canada. WMI was contacted by the associate professor leading the trip, which was focused on studying microenterprises and business development in Rwanda and Uganda. She had learned about WMI through our web site and was intrigued with our loan program operations. Elsie Lushaya Women's Group (ELWG), our local partner in Kabale, and our operating partner, the KamCox Foundation, arranged for the visit. Loan hub mentor, Enos Twetsie, was able to give the students a briefing on WMI's background and the loan hub's development and impact.


Thank You To Everyone Who Attended WMI's Cocktail Reception

May 31 turned out to be a lovely evening for a cocktail reception for WMI supporters at the home of board member Trix Vandervossen.  The garden was lovely and the rain held off until everyone had headed inside for a slideshow.  Special thank you to: Kathy Staudaher and Sally Kelly for helping organize the evening, Trix and her husband Tim Mealy for providing such a lovely venue, Trix's sister-in-law and her sister who were visiting from Holland (with their excellent egg salad recipe), and most of all to our wonderful supporters who we hope enjoyed the evening and without whose compassion and commitment the WMI loan program would not be possible!





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   bvandervossen@imf.org 

Jane Erickson          ericksonjn@verizon.net
Terry Ciccotelli         terryciccotelli@gmail.com