May/June 2016            




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In This Update...

  • WMI Summer Interns in Bethesda and Buyobo
  • WMI Loan Program Income Helps Renovate Village Water System in Uganda
  • Maasi Borrower Biography from Tanzania
  • Banking Consultant Joins WMI Support Staff
WMI Summer Interns Support Program Operations in US and Abroad
Every summer WMI benefits enormously from the hard work of dedicated college students who serve as interns both here in the US and at our East African headquarters in Buyobo, Uganda.  This summer we are hosting two college students who are actually making repeat appearances in Buyobo, having served as interns there during high school.  Interns in Bethesda undertake a massive data analysis of loan program performance during the prior year, while Buyobo interns assist with program operations and community service projects. 

Bethesda Summer Interns

Devoe Arnold (Washington, DC) is a rising junior at Bowdoin College where he is majoring in Neuroscience and minoring in Government and Legal Studies. He plans to study in Copenhagen next fall. Working with an NGO in Peru garnered his interest in international development at the community level, which he hopes to explore as a career opportunity. At school, he plays varsity lacrosse and hopes to begin a microfinance club to introduce others to the field and learn more about it. 
L to R: Devoe, Madeline, Sarah, and Marlee

Sarah Barakso Martin (Chevy Chase, Maryland) Sarah is a rising junior at the University of Pennsylvania, majoring in Economics and minoring in Fine Arts and Art History. She is a member of the UPenn branch of 180 Degrees Consulting, where she developed an interest for international impact projects. This summer, she is also working as a consulting intern at Hammer Strategies in Washington, D.C. She is excited to spend her summer exploring D.C. and contributing to WMI!

Marlee Grant is a rising junior at The George Washington University, double majoring in International Affairs-International Economics and Dance. She was a member of the GW Women's Leadership Program for Globalization, Economics, and Business. She has just returned from a semester abroad in Istanbul, Turkey and is excited to be back in the United States, working for the WMI. 

Madeleine Scanio is a rising junior at The George Washington University working towards a bachelor's degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance. At school, she is an active member of the Women in Business Organization where she works to promote gender equality in the work force. She is looking forward to enjoying her summer with friends and family and working for the WMI.

Buyobo Summer Interns

Noah Martin will be entering his Senior year at Georgetown University majoring in Biology of Global Health with a pre-med concentration. In addition to the shared internship projects, Noah's main contribution will be to train Village Health Team officials on basic health skills including First Aid, CPR, blood pressure, and heart rate. He is also teaching a P7 classroom on the subject of Science.  This is Noah's third trip to Buyobo!  He spent two previous summers in Buyobo as a high school intern!
L to R: Michael,Noah, Ashley (WMI Fellow), Natalie, and Javier

Michael Chang is a Junior at Princeton majoring in Economics. As a University soccer player, Michael is taking the lead on creating a recreational program at Buyobo Primary School. Michael is teaching Math for P7 students. He is passionate about economic development and is looking to gain experience in the developing world through this internship.

Natalie Andrasko is a Junior majoring in International Studies with a concentration in Global Health and Environmental Studies at University of Michigan. She is passionate about women's health and empowerment in developing countries and is implementing a gender violence counselling program for P6 and P7 girls. She is teaching Math and English to P5 students. Additionally, she is teaching entrepreneurial and sexual health to pre-teen girls in the community. Natalie is also a returning intern, having spent a previous summer in Buyobo as a high school student.

Javier Eguiara is entering his final year as a Business Administration major at Deusto University in Bilbao, Spain. He is pioneering a new program called Boys' Group in Buyobo that will teach P6 and P7 boys about hygiene, sexual health, healthy relationships, and business skills. Boys' Group has just purchased a dairy cow to teach the boys how to manage a small business. Javier plans to pursue a career in microfinance after graduating. 
WMI Loan Program Income Helps Finance Renovation of Village Water System

Reliable access to water is a constant struggle in the life of a village woman in sub-Saharan Africa.  The
Ready to fetch water.
vast majority of women in WMI loan programs haul water by hand to their homes several times a day (or delegate younger children - frequently girls - to manage this task).  If a village is lucky enough to have any type of improved water system, maintaining that system and ensuring its ongoing operation is difficult due to a lack of funds.  Systems fall into disrepair, pipes corrode and water sources become polluted.  That was the case with the GIBUGOMU GRAVITY-FED WATER SUPPLY SYSTEM which serves the thousands of women, children and families living in Buyobo, Uganda.
Water collection at the free flowing pipe.

Freely  roa ming cows, goats and chickens contaminated the water source - an unprotected grassy area where natural springs bubble out of the ground. The spring water feeds into a crumbling cement holding tank which connects to conduits corroded with decades of sediment.  Overground pipes are regularly slashed by farmers to create pools to water their crops.  Hand pumps and holding tanks malfunctioned due to neglected maintenance.  Water is typically collected in  a polluted cement sump from a free-running pipe.

Eventually the water began to trickle from the town pumps in fits and spurts, and then for hours at a time there was no water at all. Long lines surrounded the pumps when they had even a minimal flow. The water problem grew to become the number one household issue on everyone's mind.  It was reaching crisis proportions. There was only one solution - the entire system had to be reconstructed, but repeated appeals to the local authorities were turned down due to lack of funds.  This
VHTs examine the water system; Ashley watches village elder Nelson Gutaka clear waste from the natural springs.
 past Januar y, the Buyobo Village Health Teams (VHTs) decided to take action.

The VHTs knew the serious health problem posed by the deepening water crisis.  They organized a
 coalition of the Buyobo Women's Association (BWA) - WMI's local partner in the loan  program; The  Buyobo Community Development Association (BCDA); WMI; and, Bradley Hills Presbyterian Church in Bethesda, MD - a long time supporter of Buyobo community projects.  During the annual visit of WMI President, Robyn Nietert, the VHT's escorted her and WMI Fellow, Ashley Van Waes,  to the water source and showed her the damage and decaying infrastructure.  They then caucused with BWA to come up with a plan.  
VHT member repairs a slashed pipe with a banana leaf.

They called on the services of a water engineer, Earnest Bisigye, who was connected to a sister loan hub in Mukuno.  Earnest surveyed the water system along with Sam Wesomoyo, WMI's long-time building contractor.  They developed an action plan and cost estimate of $35,000 to renovate the entire water system, including the addition or more pumps at strategic locations in the village (notably the local primary school where students have not had ready access to the water system), sedimentation control, and replacement and burying of all the pipes.

How would the village pay for this much needed water system renovation? The VHTs and BCDA applied to Bradley Hills for a grant, which the church made in the amount of nearly $16,000.  BWA analysed its income from the loan program and found it could provide the remaining $19,000.  This is the power of a village run loan program managed by and for rural women.

Contractor renovating a water holding tank.
The water system renovation is currently underway and will be finished by the end of the summer.  BWA officers, VHTS and community leaders have formed a water committee to ma nage the renovated system.  The Water Committee will hold a community meeting that will sensitize the villagers about proper usage and care of the source. They will elect a committee for each individual tap and those members will be in charge of repairing it and collecting fees from the community should there be a problem. The Water Committee is empowered to impose fines on community members who damage the system.  The newly elected local government leadership in Buyobo has indicated it will actively support the Water Committee's activities.

Water Committee members, including Olive Wolimbwa, BWA Chairwoman, in purple shirt.
The loan program not only provides impoverished rural women with loans and training to start businesses - it develops human capacity in the village and develops local resources so that women can take charge and solve critical problems that threaten their families' wellbeing.  Loan program hubs become focal points for local action on community problems.  WMI is grateful that your support has allowed rural women to build vibrant, sustainable networks which support community led programs that improve village living standards. 
Maasi Borrower Biography from Tanzania

WMI partners with a British non-profit, WTWT, run by Rachel Blackmore, to bring loans and business skills training to very remote areas of Tanzania inhabited by the Maasi tribe. Traditionally nomadic, the Maasi have faced increased land use restrictions and are experiencing severe socio-economic difficulty in transitioning to a more permanent lifestyle.  

WTWT provides not just loan program services to the Maasi, but also health training, school buildings and livestock programs.  WTWT hires local staff who are embedded in the community and who can provide us with a real world understanding of the tough life Maasi women face.  We are very encouraged by the positive impact the loan program has on the women's lives and are grateful for the local staff who make it possible for the program to operate in the context of the Maasi culture.  Here is a short biography of a new borrower who received a loan in recent months.

My name is NASEKU PATEL. I am aged 38, a mother of six children. MY husband is married to two women, including me. Our family life has been deteriorating since my husband started drinking alcohol back 1999. He sold all our cows and goats and nobody stopped him until he finished all. We could not say a word to him.  When selling as he beat us.
I can see my family life changing now since I took the loan. My husband can talk to me and listen when I have a word to say. He still drinks but not as before, as I encourage him to change such an addictive habit.

My children put on good clothes and shoes like the children from resourceful families. Therefore, I feel proud and determined to perform better in the future as I get more business loans.

I thank WTWT and WMI for supporting us with loans. It was my first time to have such huge amount in my hand of which I thought I will not manage to handle, but thanks to prior training we received before we get the loan money I do manage well.

My God bless you all who have contributed and shared their money with us!

Banking Consultant Joins WMI Support Staff

As the loan program continues to grow, so does the need to make sure it is operating at maximum efficiency and within host country guidelines.  To help manage and direct this growth, WMI has sought the
John Mark with the BWA Executive Committee
input of a Uga ndan banking consultant, John Mark Muwangala.  A seven year veteran of the Ugandan banking industry, John Mark has worked on various banking initiatives from mobile money to agricultural financing.  Most recently he has been working with Mango Tree, a Ugandan company that provides curriculum content for grass roots education initiatives across East Africa.  As a consultant, he will help manage WMI's banking relationships and provide input on operating protocols.  

John Mark made his first visit to Buyobo last month to meet with Olive and the BWA executive team.  The ladies were happy to be able to take advantage of his expertise and have arranged regular meetings to consult on future growth decisions.  Welcome John Mark!  He joins Dominic Kizito, WMI's long-time driver and trip consultant, to double the male presence in WMI field operations support staff!  




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 each and every one for making our outreach to the rural women of East Africa a reality.


Gratefully,oard 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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