November/December 2014            


          Please consider a year end donation to WMI: donate 


        visit our website


In This Update...

  • WMI's Top 10 Accomplishments of 2014 - All Made Possible by your Support!
  • WMI Supporter Reports on Visit to Tanzania Loan Hub
  • Karen Bustard Selected for Spring 2015 In-Field Internship
  • WMI Mentors Capstone Project for Seniors at Bullis School in Potomac, MD
  • Atiak, Uganda Loan Program Member Shares Her Success Story

WMI Top 10 Accomplishments of 2014 Made Possible by Your Support

In 2014 WMI continued its track record as a high performance/ low overhead organization, which allowed us to achieve maximum impact with your donation dollars. Our feet on the ground are the ladies in the loan program who provide the local administrative infrastructure. There are no high priced consultants involved in WMI - only high quality, village-level staff members who have taken ownership of the program and are vested in its success.   

Our outreach has grown dramatically over the years.  Since inception, WMI has made over 15,000 loans totaling nearly $2,500,000. Currently, WMI loan hubs are serving over 3,300 active loan clients. The updated chart containing a summary of program operations is available on the web site: Summary

Operations in 2014 focused on infrastructure building, training and expansion of services - all of the progress we made in these areas was due to you generous support. Thank you for making the loan a vibrant financial resource for rural women! Our top 10 accomplishments for the year include:

1. Construction of a meeting pavilion in Buteza, a sub-hub in Sironko District, Uganda, to accommodate the growing number of borrowers in this area.

2. Launch of cervical cancer/breast cancer/HIV-AIDS screening in loan hubs in Eastern Uganda in collaboration with local medical teams.


3. Addition of 4-month long spring and fall in-field internships for college graduates, allowing them to obtain hands-on experience in microfinance program operations.


4. Construction of a kindergarten in the Alailelai, Tanzania loan hub, supported in part by contributions from the women in the loan program. pbu van


5. Post Bank Uganda's roll-out of a village-focused lending product inspired by WMI's successful rural operations.


6. Accompanied by Stephen Mukweli, the Managing Director of Postbank Uganda,  the Hon. Minister of Microfinance, Caroline Okao Amali, visited WMI headquarters in Buyobo and delivered a major speech on financial inclusion.


7. Week long training workshops at our Headquarters building in Buyobo for over 50 village women throughout our loan programs in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania - many of those from Tanzania and Kenya had never travelled outside their countries.


8. Proficiency training of two village women in Buyobo on Excel spreadsheet functions.


9. Collaboration with Postbank Tanzania and Kenya Women's Finance Trust to develop a loan product for WMI graduates who want to transition to bank loans.


10. Addition of WMI's 14th loan hub - a partnership with Busessa Community Development Centre (BCDC) in Kibaale District, Uganda. 


 WMI Supporter Reports on Visit To Tanzania Loan Hub

While traveling to Tanzania on business in November, Tim Mealey, a long-time WMI supporter and husband of WMI board member Trix Vandervossen, found himself a mere hour from WMI's Tloma loan hub, outside the town of Karatu. With the assistance of Kate Eger, a loan program intern, he was able to arrange a visit with the ladies who manage WMI operations there and provided us with this account.  


I met Maria Oloulu, administrator for the Tanzania loan programs, in Karatu on a loan program repayment day - she had just collected the payments and deposited them in the bank in town.   We then traveled back to Tloma village and met with Loan group Chairperson, Levina Emanuel Slaa, at her very nice brick home, which was teaming with children of various ages, cows, pigs, chickens and a wonderful vegetable garden which Levina's elderly mother was attending to.  We chatted about the WMI program, while Kate used her iPhone to take pictures of the meticulous, handwritten loan repayment books so she could transfer them onto a spreadsheet which Maria would use in the future to track the loans.


Levina was a force to be reckoned with.  She did not speak English, so others helped translated our conversation back and forth between English and Swahili.  I learned that she is an elected official in the Tloma Village Council and that her WMI loan was used to finance her brick manufacturing  facility, which was on common property that the Village owned and which she had helped make accessible to others through the road that passed by her property. 


Even more impressive was Levina's expressed desire to build an orphanage on the property immediately adjacent to her home which she recently purchased.  While walking from the brick manufacturing site back to her house, I learned that several of the children who had greeted me shyly when I arrived, were "AIDS orphans," having lost their parents to the disease.


I came away inspired by the very real and tangible impact WMI is having on people's lives in a part of the world in which so much of what we take for granted is simply not a part of daily reality. I was inspired by determined woman who have chosen to better themselves, their families, and orphaned children who are in desperate need of care and feeding.  I look forward to supporting WMI for years to come and I hope I can find a way to help Levina make her vision of building an orphanage a reality. 


WMI Spring 2015 In-Field Intern Selected

In January 2014, Karen Bustard with join the WMI team for a 5 month in-field internship. She graduated from Tufts University in 2013 with a B.A. in International Relations, and a focus in global health, nutrition, and the environment. In Spring 2012 she studied abroad in Madagascar, where she conducted research in villages within a national park, looking at changes to both development and ecology since the political crisis in 2009. She presented her paper the following year at the Georgetown Conference for Undergraduate IR Research.


Over the past four years, she worked at Urban Tree Connection, an urban farming and community revitalization non-profit in west Philadelphia, where she developed and coordinated their new Teen Apprentice program. Karen will work closely with WMI's Local Director, Olive Wolimbwa, at WMI's Buyobo Headquarters to continue computer training and skills development for our loan program administrative team.  She will also visit other loan hubs to provide resource training.


WMI Mentors Capstone Project for Seniors at Bullis School in Potomac, MD

Five young women who are seniors at the Bullis School in Potomac, MD have elected to pursue a yearlong capstone project that allows them to concentrate on select classes related to a given signature program and deepen their understanding in a chosen area.  Their selected focus area is microfinance. WMI has agreed to mentor their studies and group project, which will culminate in their production of a documentary on the women in the WMI loan program that will be featured at a fundraiser for WMI at Bullis in Spring 2015. 


WMI president, Robyn Nietert, has met with the young women and provided assigned readings.  They have outlined their video project and were able to discuss details with WMI's Resource Fellow and Director of Finance for East Africa, Melissa LaReau, who was in the USA recently on holiday leave.  WMI has benefited enormously over the years from the input of young adults who have become involved in program operations and fundraising.  We are excited to serve as mentors to this capstone class and welcome the chance to introduce more young people to our approach to women-focused development at the village level.   


Atiak, Uganda Loan Program Member Shares Her Success Story



For our last article in this end of the year newsletter, we leave you with one of the hand written success stories prepared this December by a loan group member in Atiak, Uganda, near the South Sudan border. Bear in mind that the women entering the loan program are typically living on less than $1.00 per day (2,500 Uganda shillings = $1).  Thank you for the support with makes the loan program in Atiak possible and this success story a reality!  Happy New Year!







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        jgkyakobye@yahoo.com
Trix Vandervossen   bvandervossen@imf.org 

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