May/June 2017             







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In This Update...

  • WMI Family in Tanzania Expands
  • Jumbo Loan Program Thrives 
  • Spotlight on the Next Generation: Milly Wolimbwa
  • Rebuilding the Herd for Maasai Families in Tanzania
  • CDs and DVDs Make Their Way to Rural Bududa District, Uganda
  • College Interns Arrive at WMI HQ in Buyobo, Uganda
WMI Family in Tazania Expands
Usually when we announce an addition to the WMI family it is a new staff member joining us - but this month we have much more thrilling expansion news!  Jess Broughton, the resident WMI Fellow in Karatu, Tanzania and her partner, John Nguruko, announced that they are expecting a baby girl in the middle of August.
Originally from Scotland, Jess began a residency with the Ganako Women's Community Organization (GWOCO), WMI's Tanzanian partner, in January of this year. John, a proud member of the Maasai clan from the city of Arusha in Tanzania, is currently working with the Massai Partners organization, which also partners with GWOCO to support the loan program.
With a wonderful network of support the couple plan to deliver in a nearby, well established hospital. Following a short break, they both look forward to getting right back into their respective roles. Jess's Tanzanian colleagues are all extremely experienced mothers. Despite a total of 20 children among the 3-member Ganako staff, they manage to maintain their own successful businesses on top of the significant time spent working with the loan program. The ladies are model examples of working mothers and offer Jess invaluable local insight.
News of an addition to their small family, currently consisting of two lovely dogs and an extremely independent cat, encouraged John to expand his knowledge base. In addition to providing web services to Maasai Partners, he is now getting involved with local agriculture as a means to further support the household. With a joint passion for development, the couple plan to live, work and raise their daughter in Tanzania for the foreseeable future.

Congratulations to the happy couple!  WMI looks forward to Jess' continued work with the loan program and the women of Karatu who have come to love her and appreciate all of her assistance.
Jumbo Loan Program Thrives 
As the businesses run by WMI borrowers continue to grow, so do the capital needs of our experienced businesswomen.  This year WMI has introduced a streamlined Jumbo Loan Program to keep up with this growing demand for larger loans.
The WMI program issues semi-annual loans of up to $250 to individuals over a two-year cycle. After borrowers graduate, most become self-financing and continue to operate their businesses with the income they generate. But increasing numbers of graduates have exceptionally strong businesses and need additional capital for expansion. This is where our Jumbo program comes in.
Jumbo loans are granted to a select group of highly-qualified borrowers in amounts of $300-$900 in order to support their growing businesses. We are very proud of our financially-savvy Jumbo borrowers, who run businesses ranging from fresh produce sales, to drugstores, restaurants and even a carpentry shop. Our local partner, Buyobo Women's Association (BWA), provides ongoing training and support for these hard-working entrepreneurs.
Lydia Neumbe (left) is one such borrower. A young entrepreneur, at just 23 years old she founded her mobile money business. Now, three years later, she employs three other young people in her growing mobile money franchise, which grosses nearly $700 per month!  Lydia splits most of her days between managing operations and pursuing new business ventures.

As many people know, there are few jobs available to young adults in developing countries.  Giving young women the opportunity to acquire business loans and training is a way combat the pernicious problem of the feminization of poverty that is pervasive in developing countries.
WMI currently has 10 Jumbo Loan Borrowing Groups - with the newest one (Starling) launched in May. We are eager to watch their businesses continue to grow!

Spotlight on the Next Generation: Millie Wolimbwa

WMI is pleased to congratulate our Finance Manager in Buyobo, Millie Wolimbwa, on her one-year anniversary with the team!
One of only two full-time staff members at Buyobo Women's Association (BWA) headquarters, Millie contributes a friendly face and positive attitude in addition to her deep financial knowledge.  Millie's financial expertise has been critical to managing BWA's day-to-day operations, banking relationships and constructing new financial inclusion programs over the past year.  In addition to her technical expertise, she is valued as a team player who jumps in to help with any job that needs doing - assisting women with their loan payments, guiding borrowers who are filling out loan application forms, and interfacing with banking staff.
Milly had already been a dedicated team member for over five years before she came on board with BWA full-time in June, 2016. As a high school student, she started volunteering during summers and term breaks, assisting with typing, filing and other secretarial work and learning the ins and outs of the program. She continued volunteering as she started her university studies. When it came time for BWA to hire its first full-time Finance Manager, Millie was a natural candidate.  She came on board with a Bachelor's of Science in Finance from Makerere University.

Rebuilding the Herd for Maasai Families in Tanzania

Drought was severe this past winter in Alailelai, Tanzania, where WMI has been working with Maasai women for the past 5 years.  The ground stayed dry, water was extremely hard to come by for humans and animals alike, and as a result, many people lost many cows, goats and sheep.  In a place
where the livestock herd is often a family's sole means of sustenance and livelihood, drought is a life-threatening crisis. 

WMI's local partner, the Alailelai Maasai Sustainability Organization (AMSO) surveyed the urgent situation and developed a plan to distribute 96 goats to the 24 families their villages deemed most in need.  Now, with enough water replenishment to nourish the animals, these Maasai will be able to grow their herds over the course of the three-year program while gaining a regular source of milk.
WMI contributed one herd of goats and medicine for the herd.   As participants in this program, the families are not permitted to sell or slaughter the goats for three years, ensuring the growth of their herds and creating a longer-term, more sustainable solution.

When families are stressed by calamitous circumstances, like drought or crop failure, it is impossible for women to focus on their businesses. WMI's wholistic approach to microfinance means that we step in when we see the opportunity to provide meaningful support to families so that they can deal with emergencies and avoid backsliding into a relentless cycle of poverty.  WMI is fortunate to partner with active grassroots organizations like AMSO that are in a position to assess and respond immediately to crisis situations. 

CDs and DVDs Make Their Way to Rural Bududa District, Uganda
Take a five hour drive northeast from Kampala and you will find yourself in rural Bududa District where Robinah Nabwire runs a thriving DVD/CD business, which she started with a loan from WMI. Scouring local markets for popular movies and music and inspecting discs carefully to make sure they meet her quality control standards, Robinah has managed to develop a strong customer base. 

She has run this business for over 2 years and she says it has done a lot in the family.  She has been able to buy a cow whereby she gets milk for her family and sells the excess to neighbors.  Her children attend school regularly and she pays the fees out of her business profits.  Robinah's husband is an active partner in the business - together they make business decisions and share household duties that would typically be borne solely by the mother.  Robinah reports that the whole family is moving on happily and in good health.

College Interns Arrive at WMI HQ in Uganda
The village of Buyobo turned out to welcome this year's college interns who arrived on June 1: Julia Dreher, Vince Dewar and Emmanuella Kyei Manu  Over the next 2 months they will undertake a number of projects to support the loan program and the community.

Julia (left) is a rising sophomore intending to major in Philosophy, Politics and Economics and minor in Business at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. After taking a year off before university to participate in various apprenticeships internationally, she became interested in the ways in which grassroots organizations can facilitate economic development and promote gender equality.
As a member of the WMI team, Julia is working with the Girls' Group to teach courses on hygiene, sexual health, and entrepreneurship to P5 and P6 girls. Additionally, she is conducting borrower interviews, and taking the lead in creating videos highlighting the work of WMI in Buyobo. She is looking forward to hearing and documenting the stories of all the women who are working in the community to create opportunities for themselves and their families."  
Vince (center) is currently a rising junior majoring in International Affairs at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida. Vince's strong interest in economic development can be traced back to his work with THMT, a non-profit, that provides healthcare and related services to a rural community in Haiti. Since 2010, Vince has served the organization in various capacities, both in-country and stateside, and is presently the administrative director. Upon completing his undergrad, Vince hopes to pursue a masters degree in International Development with a program in the U.K. 
In addition to the day-to-day intern duties including working with Buyobo's boys group, Vince has been tasked with overseeing borrower interviews and a climate resiliency proposal. Vince also hopes to examine the viability of a livestock reproduction project in Buyobo that could potentially generate funds for WMI's community project budget. Over the summer, Vince Is looking forward to gaining a localized insight on the implementation and impact of microfinance. 
Emmanuella (right) is a rising junior in Princeton University with a concentration in Economics and a certificate in Cognitive Science. Growing up in Accra, Ghana, Emmanuella found that she genuinely enjoyed taking classes in Economics and eventually hopes to move back to her home country to undertake a project in economic development. In the meantime, Emmanuella is looking to complete her undergraduate studies and pursue a degree in law.
Emmanuella is excited to learn from a successful model of microfinance and from the amazing women who make this project possible.  She has the distinction of being WMI's first college intern who hails from sub-Saharan Africa.

Global Giving 50% Matching Event: Thursday, July 12
 Once again, W MI has qualified for Global Giving's summer matching donation campaign.  On July 12,  starting at 9 am EDT, GG will match 50% of all donations made to WMI on the GG web site until the GG pool of $110,000 in Matching Funds is depleted.   This is a great opportunity to make your donation dollar go further!

By participating in the various GG fundraising campaigns, WMI has received over $50,000 in funds directly from GG.  This is a huge and much appreciated rev enue stream for our organization.
If you would like to participate in the matching event on July 12th, just click on the link below or go directly to the GG web site and enter WMI's project number, 2349.   WMI Project on GG

Thank you everyone for your ongoing support!


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 every one for making our outreach to the rural women of East Africa a reality.
The WMI Board of Directors  
Robyn Nietert    Betsy Gordon    Deborah Smith     Jane Erickson  
      Terry Ciccotelli     Trix Vandervossen    June Kyakobye  
Contact Information
phone: 301-520-0865                   
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