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  • New Headquarters Building Now Sports Windows and Door

  • Summer Interns Return to Buyobo

  • A Donor's Note

  • WMI Borrower's Daughter Facing Cancer Head-On

  • Bringing Mobile Health Services to WMI Borrowers in Tanzania

  • Newest Kenya Loan Hub Adds A Second Cohort of Borrowers

  • WMI Embodies Localization Protocols That Elude Major International Organizations

Country Updates:

Uganda. New prioritization rules adopted by the World Food Program are expected to result in significant reductions in humanitarian resources provided to refugees in Uganda beginning this summer. After implementation, 82 percent of the refugee population will receive monthly rations that only meet 30 percent of their minimum daily caloric needs. Uganda has the largest camps in Africa, hosting 1.5 million refugees in a country with a population of 45 million. It is expected that this shortfall in food assistance will put additional strain on local food supplies, farmland and water sources.

Kenya. Opposition party protests have rocked Kenya this summer causing widespread disruptions and confrontations with police that have resulted in the deaths of more than two dozen people. In the past day, the government and opposition party leaders have announced a committee to resolve their differences and end the protests. The announcement was welcomed by small business owners.

Tanzania. This past week Tanzania's Ministry of Health launched the Research on Productive Health Rights for Urban and Rural Women through the Media organized by Tanzania Media Women's Association (TAMWA) and announced that Tanzania has entered a number of international and regional agreements to improve maternal, mother and child health. All of the outreach efforts are coordinated through the National Plan for Maternal, Mother, Child and Nutrition Health. The Health Minister, Ummy Mwalimu, said, "The Ministry has continued to ensure that reproductive health rights are available throughout the country, including purchasing and distributing contraceptive products."

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New Headquarters Building Now Sports Windows and Doors

Despite the heavy rainfall, which slowed transport and caused power outages, WMI’s contractor, Sam Wesamoyo, kept moving forward on construction of WMI’s new two-story headquarters in Buyobo. The building now sports newly installed doors and windows. Finish work on the floors and walls is up next. Completion of the project is slated for the end of September. Our leadership team, as well as a multitude of borrowers, peruse the site daily and offer advice on everything from color schemes to floor tile patterns!

Meet the Summer Interns Who are Back in Buyobo

Like Heath Ledger’s character in The Knight’s Tale returning triumphantly to London with his entourage to the strains of Thin Lizzy’s “The Boys Are Back in Town”, so WMI’s college interns returned to Buyobo for the first time since Covid engulfed the world three years ago. Buyobo greeted them enthusiastically!

Cindy Matsiko recently graduated from University of Maryland, Baltimore County where she majored in Psychology and minored in Africana Studies and Social Welfare. She was in Buyobo with her mom, board member June Kyakobye, when the loan program launched in 2008 and is delighted to be back in the village.

Elizabeth Grace Mwebaze is 21 years old and from Buyobo, Uganda. She will be joining Medicare health professionals Mengo in Kampala this summer, where she plans to pursue clinical medicine. Liz is our first college intern who grew up witnessing the loan program in action in her hometown.

Sarah Kate ElHamahmy is a rising junior at Georgetown University, pursuing a major in Political Economy. She has a passion for feminist advocacy and economic empowerment which is what brought her to WMI!

Fatima Shamim is a junior majoring in Economics at Wellesley College, where she is Co-Fundraising and Co-Outreach Chair for UNICEF. She is excited to work with WMI and looking forward to learning more about the role of microfinance in economic development and the advancement of women.

This summer's team is led by Cindy Matsiko, who has been managing WMI’s internship program for the past three years, and who also handles social media for us. The interns are working on data analysis and creating the annual Factbook documenting loan program impact, as well as visiting borrowers’ businesses and their stalls at the marketplace, conducting interviews, taking photos and videos, and teaching at Buyobo Primary School. They are enormously popular with the students and brought along some sports equipment and academic supplies for the teachers.

WMI Borrower’s Daughter Facing Cancer Head-On

Our loan hub in Buseesa in Southwest Uganda relayed the experience of a WMI borrower whose daughter is fighting cancer. We are working with our local leadership to identify what type of support WMI can provide to the family.

"On Sunday we had a very touching young girl speak in church. She is called Mary. Last year she was in primary grade 7 and felt some pain in one of her legs. In June, she was diagnosed with cancer. She stayed in hospital up to November and sat for her exams. She passed with a second grade despite the painful challenges she was going through, and is now qualified to go on to senior level classes.

Two days after her exams, her leg was removed. Her mother had a business through a WMI loan and the parents sold most of whatever they had to save the girl's life. Mary is now coping with medication but needs more medical attention. She is supposed to go back to Mulago hospital for further diagnosis.

Her plan is to go back to school next year since all the family funds currently go for her medication. What was very touching was she said that when she finally makes it back to school, she will fight for those living with cancer because she has gone through the pain and she now knows what it means.

The family lives about 5 km away WMI’s loan hub center in Buseesa. The community, especially those living within their village, have been very helpful in supporting her at Mulago hospital. Last Sunday she was given an opportunity to talk to the people at church and the congregation donated the funds to cover a critical diagnostic test."

One of the ancillary impacts of the loan program is that reliable business income means neighbors have sufficient funds to help one another when a crisis like this arises. WMI is staying apprised of the situation to figure out the best way we can lend support.

A Donor's Note

WMI recently received a generous donation accompanied by the following note:

In honour of my mother, Elizabeth Sobolewski, who was housed in Uganda during WWII, after she had been removed from Poland with her family. I have photos of her holding a cobra, and stories about the crocodiles in the lakes and cutting up a sweater so she would have a bathing suit. So, I'm hoping this money helps in the way Africa helped my mother when she needed a home. - Krystyna


A bit of research yielded the background story in Elizabeth’s 2019 obituary posted on the Tribute Archive web site:


Elzbieta (Elizabeth) SOBOLEWSKI 08 Mar 30 – 16 Sep 2019. Born on March 8, 1930, in Tarnopol, Poland (now Ukraine) to Antoni Indyk and Maria (Lubas). Elizabeth was the youngest of five siblings - Zygmunt, Lucya, Henryka and Leon. At the age of 10, Elizabeth, her parents and two brothers were taken by train to a labour camp in Sverdlovsk, Siberia where they lived under dire conditions for two years. Following Amnesty, they were transported south to Uganda, Africa where they lived in a Polish settlement on the shores of Lake Victoria for six years.

In 1948, Elizabeth and her family travelled to London, England. In 1952, she met and married the love of her life, Stanislaw (Stan) Sobolewski. After settling in Edinburgh Scotland, they welcomed daughter Irena (Lawrenson), and three years later, their son Roman. One year after immigrating to Canada in 1958, their daughter Krystyna (Roberts) joined the family. Elizabeth raised her children full-time until they were all in school. Her welcoming smile, gentle nature and easy laughter turned her home into a gathering place for all to share love, laughter and copious amounts of her outstanding homemade Polish dishes.

WMI is truly grateful to have received such a heart-felt donation in honor of a brave woman for whom Uganda opened its arms. 

Bringing Mobile Health Services to WMI Borrowers in Tanzania

One of the most efficient and cost-effective ancillary programs WMI supports is the provision of mobile health services to the women and families in the villages surrounding the WMI loan programs in Nainokanoka, Naiyobi, Alailelai, Esilalei and Ngoile Wards in Tanzania, all located in the National Conservation Area. We learned a long time ago that a woman’s health is key to the operation of a successful business. Likewise, her family’s health is also critical to her ability to focus her time and attention on her business.

WMI collaborated with our Tanzania partner, Maasi Partners, to facilitate the delivery of quality, equitable and gender sensitive health services to the indigenous populations in our loan service area, through mobile clinics that bring medical staff and medicine directly to the community. With his traveling clinic, Dr. Shemagembaye, a retired physician previously with the Tanzanian government health service, attends to the health of thousands of women and children who live in remote areas with rudimentary roads and no reliable transport. The mobile clinics operate on a regular schedule - villagers begin queuing early, eagerly awaiting the clinic’s arrival on appointment days. Services regularly provided include vaccinations, growth monitoring of children under two, antenatal care, deworming, treatment of acute conditions, and health education. 

In June alone, the mobile clinic administered nearly 500 doses of the DPT-HepB-Hib vaccine, which is essential to prevent diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, hepatitis and meningitis in children under five. Multiple injections are required at 2, 4, 6 and 12 months. Additionally, Rotatrix, which protects against rotavirus infections, the leading cause of severe diarrhea among young children, was administered to nearly 300 youngsters. All told, nearly 3,000 vaccinations were accomplished during the month.

The pictures below of the mobile clinic in action in various villages show the barren landscape where the borrowers live and which the clinic navigates during its regularly scheduled rounds. 

Newest Kenya Loan Hub Adds Second Cohort of Borrowers

Back on the bus they went – one by one WMI’s elite training trio of Olive Wolimbwa, Jackie Namonye, and Irene Wetaka boarded the Mash Cool coach in Mbale, Uganda and headed again for the Kenya border crossing at Malaba for the eight-hour journey to El Doret, where they trained the second cohort of borrowers in WMI’s newest loan hub. This loan hub was established in August of last year - the first two loan groups performed exceedingly well and the location was ear-marked for expansion. 

The El Doret leadership team, led by Chairwoman Everlyne Koech, went through a training to train workshop led by the Buyobo team so that they could train subsequent loan groups in El Doret as the loan hub continues to expand. The training was based on the theme: Make the best of what you have, with the overall objective of enhancing knowledge and skills of the participants to enable them to disseminate information downwards effectively and efficiently at loan hub levels.

Olive reported that the training went very well: “The training was participatory because the trainers and trainees shared their views and experiences freely. This made the sessions very lively and interesting, the trainees showed interest for their new job although they have many other responsibilities. The participants were advised to love their new job and fellow women, they should sacrifice their time to change lives of other rural women. They were further advised to work as a team and not to focus on their weaknesses but should love one another.”

Everlyne thanked the trainers and trainees for attending the training workshop and for making a sacrifice that would impact others. In her closing remarks, she appreciated the trainers and trainees for the good work done, cautioned trainees to go and use the knowledge/skills they have acquired to train the borrowers, and promised them that in case more training is needed, the WMI team from Buyobo is ready to jump on the bus once again and come back to Kenya.

The newest borrowers are centered in the rural village of Moiben and the demand for loans was strong such that many women had to be turned away. As Olive reported, "The training was lively for the members were able to share their business concerns and ask questions freely. The new trainers from El Doret helped us translate into their local language for all ladies to understand. The participants liked the sessions and expressed their gratitude to WMI for the loan program which they hope will change their standard of living.”

The Sub-County chief and other local leaders were happy to receive the new program in their area. The chief appreciated the WMI loan program for reaching out to rural women, "This innovation will bring a great change to our families. Please pay your loans well ladies so that other people can benefit from the same training and loans."

WMI Embodies Localization Protocols That Elude International Outreach Organizations


Devex, one of the leading news organizations covering global development, recently reported that leading international development organizations, including USAID, have not met their goal of localizing at least 25% of their outreach, a target set by the U.N. in 2016. The localization of services is now a driving force in the international development community yet, as Devex reports, in 2020 only 3.4% of international aid was localized and by 2022 that percentage had dropped even further to a woeful 1.8%. https://www.devex.com/news/devex-newswire-usaid-s-not-the-only-one-struggling-with-localization-105904.


The reluctance to effectively collaborate with local partners stands in stark contrast to best practices as summarized on USAID’s web site: There is now widespread consensus that development and humanitarian assistance needs to be more responsive to the needs and priorities of local actors and communities and embrace their ideas for how to address them. "The world’s development and humanitarian challenges are vast and complex, but they are also inherently local. The same is true of the many opportunities to address these challenges. Experience has shown that local leadership over where, how, and why we collaborate is the route to greater equity, effectiveness, and sustainability." https://www.usaid.gov/localization.

The concept of localization is the centerpiece of WMI’s loan program platform. WMI has always been a community-driven organization. Only through a true partnership with our local leadership teams, who manage every single WMI loan hub, have we been able to implement a successful village-level loan program. All our loan program contractors, auditors, lawyers, banking partners and suppliers are based in-country. As we look back over the past sixteen years, we see that our vision has sharpened in its focus, as we work to develop an inclusive and just financial system, because of the invaluable input and guidance of our in-county colleagues. We follow a demand-driven approach to setting priorities, strengthening capacity, and expanding operations. WMI develops its framework from the bottom up, not the top down, so that it is tailored to meet the needs of rural African women.

Thank you!

WMI is extremely grateful to our donors - you make WMI's work possible. Thank you for your thoughtfulness in supporting WMI's program to empower rural women and families in East Africa. The pandemic had already created new challenges for rural businesswomen. Persistent drought, regional conflicts, and limited access to resources continue to present challenges to village women. In the face of these difficulties, WMI continues to provide loans, training and resources. WMI remains constant and consistent. Your support is truly a lifeline - you are making a difference in reducing global poverty and improving outcomes for thousands of rural households in East Africa.


The WMI Board of Directors 

 Robyn Nietert   Betsy Gordon  Deborah Smith  Jane Erickson 

   Terry Ciccotelli   Trix Vandervossen  June Kyakobye 

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