November/December 2012





In This Update:





2012: A Milestone Year for Rural Women in East Africa

Your generosity made 2012 a banner year for the rural women in WMI's loan program in East Africa.  WMI will issue its 2012 annual report in the first quarter of 2013. Here are some highlights:


In 2012, WMI raised over a quarter of a million dollars for village women of East Africa. It is hard to believe, but the numbers are in: This past year WMI generated income of over $265,000. Institutional donors, including other NGOs, corporations and foundations, such as: The Greater Contribution, Boeing, Towards Sustainability Foundation, and the IMF Civic Fund, provided very much appreciated critical financial support. Yet, over 50% of WMI's 2012 income derived from individual donations - people here in the US and internationally as well, reaching out to the rural women of East Africa. This one-to-one connection continues to be a core element of the WMI loan program.


The funds raised by WMI meant that we were able to issue over 3,000 loans in 2012. This translated into a cumulative $493,000 lent in new loans and increasingly larger follow up loans. Starting with the first 15 pioneer loan program graduates in 2010 - WMI has now transitioned over 450 women to independent banking. These women are now financially autonomous and the bank reports they are maintaining a 100% repayment rate on their bank loans. They have independent savings accounts and are becoming increasingly sophisticated in accessing the financial services that are critical to their business success.


During 2012, WMI hub locations and operations spread over a compact service area of east Africa, with hubs providing support to one another in a variety of different ways. WMI is concentrating on expanding from the existing hub locations in order to effectively deploy scarce resources. The operations diagram on the WMI web site depicts the current loan hub configuration. Diagram 


As the WMI loan program continues to expand, the number of women graduating each year to independent banking will grow exponentially. Because WMI loan hubs become self-sustaining after two years, the infrastructure we put in place with your generous contributions in 2012 will continue to serve successive groups of impoverished women in East Africa for many years to come.


 WMI Delivers Maximum Program Impact


During the last weeks of the year, many press articles highlighted important issues related to charitable giving, including Tina Rosenberg's Putting Charities to the Test, in the New York Times and Ron Lieber's Deciding How to Slice Your Charitable Pie, also in the Times. Both articles focus on a key element in choosing a non-profit to support: IMPACT!


The Rosenberg article suggests that many aspects of a non-profit's operations are important, but they are dwarfed by one key consideration: Is the organization's work effective? We are very pleased that WMI can answer this question with a resounding YES!


The empirical and anecdotal data WMI has been collecting from women in the loan program for five years now document significant and sustainable improvements in household living standards for borrowers and their families. The improvements are both immediate (more meals and better medical care) and long-term (continuing education for children, improved family health, upgraded homes, cleaner water, solar power installations, and increased access to financial services). Families are not just working their way out of poverty - they are staying out of poverty. As WMI borrowers become more experienced with each year that goes by, they are expanding their businesses, accessing institutional financial services on a regular basis, and bringing improvements to their villages as they become better advocates for themselves, their families and their communities.


WMI posts all of its annual impact studies and ongoing longitudinal study on the web site.  Impact Studies


If you have a few minutes to review the data accumulated over the past five years, it reveals a wealth of information on how a small loan program like WMI can change lives and permanently alter future opportunities for rural Africa women and their families.


In order to select non-profits that are effective, the article suggests donors focus on ones that: "Aim to solve the most serious problems; Use interventions that work; Employ cost-effective strategies; Are competent and honest. (The percentage of donations spent on overhead is one measure of these qualities); and, Can make good use of each additional dollar."


WMI's innovative platform for starting poor women in business, and then graduating them to independent banking, measures up impressively in all of the categories. WMI addresses the critical problem of world poverty in a sustainable manner by offering women a hand up and not a hand out. Our microfinance intervention works because it vests the women in the success of the loan program and puts the tools for improving household living standards in their hands. By building human capacity and infrastructure in the villages where we work, and training the women to run the loan program on the local level, we shift administrative costs to the villages where we operate instead of creating a large non-profit bureaucracy her in the USA.


WMI's local operations strategy coupled with a hands-on volunteer board of directors of professional women means WMI's percentage of donations spent on overhead is extremely small: 1% in 2011 - and we expect to report a similarly small percentage for 2012. Donors can feel confident that additional dollars contributed to WMI result in direct benefits to the women and families we serve.


The Lieber article refers to Peter Singer's excellent book on charitable giving, The Life You Can Save. Mr. Singer is an Australian philosopher and Bioethics professor at Princeton University.   He argues for effective giving that maximizes the measurable impact of donated funds in terms of how the funds translate into improving the quality of human life. Again, we believe that WMI's impact studies provide meaningful, measurable and insightful data on how the WMI loan program significantly improves living conditions for poor, rural women and their families.

WMI Fellowship Opportunity In Buyobo, Uganda

In 2012, WMI established a new field position for a Resource Fellow to assist with the development and growth of the WMI loan program for a period of 6 - 12 months. Fellows must have a college degree and experience or training in community building skills.  


Particular experience in microfinance is helpful, but not required. Experience in working with community programs in sub-Saharan Africa is also helpful, but not required.


The Fellow's main responsibility is to assist in human capacity development and implementation of effective systems operations in the field, working with WMI's rural loan program partners in east Africa. The Fellow is based in WMI's oldest loan hub in Buyobo, Uganda - about 15 miles from the town of Mbale. Local accommodations (with solar power and plumbing) and a meal allowance are provided.  There is a small monthly stipend.

Hannah Kahl


Applications are now being accepted for the 2013 Fellow. The Fellowship will begin in April 2013. Interested applicants can read about Hannah Kahl, WMI's current Fellow in Buyobo, on the WMI web site.  


The WMI blog has been written by Hannah for the past 6 months and her entries provide insight into the daily activities and responsibilities of the Fellow position.




New Health and Education Trainings in Village Loan Hubs

Because WMI provides a loan program and not a subsidy, it generates revenue for the local women's groups that administer the program on the ground. The interest income covers all local operating expenses. Eventually the loan program generates income in excess of expenses and this free cash flow is being used to provide supplemental health and education programs for the entire community.


The first health training program was initiated in Buyobo with a program provided by the District health officers. The Bududa loan hub provided the next training and just this past month, the Konokoya loan hub (also in Bududa District) organized an enormously popular all day event that was standing room only. In addition to providing important information, each training links WMI borrowers to government programs and servies.  It increases the visibility of the loan program and the women who run it as leaders in their communities.


Betty Bigale, the Chair of the Konokoya loan hub group, prepared a first-hand account of the latest training and her thoughtful report reveals insightful details about the daily life and concerns of women in the WMI loan program.  If you take a few minutes to read the report, you might find some helpful hints about how to handle husbands to create a harmonious household.


The Education Officer lectures about continued schooling
The Health officer provides valuable notes on sanitation


FROM: Betty Bigale,  Bududa Development Centre Women's Initiative


I greet you all. Thanks for the support you rendered towards this seminar. The members are so impressed about how you organize certain things which help them as they continue to live.


The seminar was so wonderful and members enjoyed the training so much that they sympathized with the few who did not attend due to un avoidable circumstances known to themselves. The attendance was so good, we were 105 members.


We started the seminar at 9.30 a., and ended at 4.30 p.m. We learnt so many things but I would like to mention a few. Agenda was as follows:


Lectures by: Health Office; District Educ. Officer; Senior Community Dev. Officer; HIV/AIDS Counsellor.


Health Officer:                     -                       Judith Musamali


This topic was so interesting and I am sure it has taught our members a lesson how to maintain cleanliness in homes. The facilitator taught them the methods of being clean and she said she will be visiting them abruptly. She said she will not inform anyone when she is going to visit any home so that she proves that they have done what she taught. Some of the main things she wants them to do is to have:


-Plate stand

-Sleeping under nets

-Clean Cow sheds if there is a cow

-Slash the compound not to attract snakes and mosquitoes

-well-arranged bedroom

-Clean kitchen etc.


Also advised them to produce few children so that the loans you give them can be of great help in their homes.


Education Officer                                        -           Betty Khainza


The education officer taught many things and members were so attentive:


-She advised them to take their children to school including those who have produced and are just wasted at home.


-She advised all women whether young or old to go back to school too and acquire some knowledge. She meant those who dropped out of school and got married. She read for them the government policy of adult people going back to school to acquire knowledge.


-To pay money for the children to have meals at school so that they can study well.


-Buy uniform and shoes for the children - this encourages a child to look nice and want to be at school (not ashamed among fellow students)


-Not to use very abusive language towards the children - it demoralizes them from being lively etc.


Senior Community Development Officer            -           Fazil Masokoyi


Advised women to be pillars of the homes by:

-Keeping peace in a home


-Creating good relationship with the husband so that the children can copy the good morals.


-Avoid unnecessarily quarreling which can result into fighting because husbands are short tempered people who need respect.


-Advised women to combine forces with their husbands to discipline the children.


-Also advised them to try and sleep under mosquito nets as well as their children.


-He said that the worst disease he has discovered is ignorance. So he encouraged them to go and register for Adult Education immediately.


He told us that since he has seen such a good group he promised to see that we benefit from some projects at the district. He directed me to pick the forms from a certain office, fill them according to our colour groups and return them to his office in order to achieve a project from the district. There are five projects: Brick Laying; Tailoring; Saloon; Chairs And Tents; Welding; Handcraft.


Once we apply and qualify in the one of the above mentioned project, they give money to buy what is necessary for the project and give them accountability. On Saturday 24th Nov. 2012 most of the members will come for loan repayment and I will give them the forms to fill and be submitted to the Community Development Office for action.


He praised all organizers (Robyn, Barbara and Betty) for such an important seminar for the goodness of members.


HIV/AIDS Counsellor                     -           Sarah Mukimba


She taught them what HIV/AIDS means. She told members that AIDS has 3 different types and so when one is suffering from one type, it is important that she or he does not go with many other people to acquire another type. She advised them especially those who are aging, to abstain so that they can live longer. She said if one goes on mixing all the three types, he/she dies very quickly because some of the three types are so deadly. She taught us how to prevent getting AIDS and in case you have it, how to go about it in order to live longer.


She also told members that the government had brought a machine for testing uterus cancer so she encouraged them to go for testing at Bududa Hospital. She told them that once cancer is discovered at early stage, it can be treated. The whole exercise was wonderful.


If I mention all what we learnt, I can type many pages. The members said that there are many things they discovered in this seminar which they didn't know. They had assumed that they knew much yet they were ignorant about many issues. They have appreciated so much for your efforts.


Women take careful notes on the infromation provided by the trainers.


After the day long session, WMI was able to provide a simple meal for all of the women.
Thank you!



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 in 2013 so that they can create a better life for themselves and their families.


Best wishes for a happy and healthy New Year!


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