September/October 2010

WMI UPDATE wmionline.org

In This Update:

1. Two New WMI Loan Programs Launched

2. Program Location Map Added to WMI Web Site

3. WMI featured in Bethesda Magazine

4. Montana and Ainsley's Progress in Uganda and Kenya

5. $10,000 Awarded by Towards Sustainability Foundation

6. WMI Presentation at the Lowell School in Washington

7. Introduction of Financial Access 2010 at World Bank

8. Podcast Interview about WMI


The new WMI loan group in Wabulenga, Uganda with Montana and Ainsley

WMI Launches New Loan Programs in Kabale and Wabulanga

This month WMI launched two new village loan programs in two very different parts of Uganda. Kabale is in the southwest of the country and Wabulenga is outside the town of Jinja, in the east. Both launches included 20 first-time borrowers and were quite successful. Olive Wolimbwa traveled all the way from Buyobo (12 hours to Kabale) with other experienced WMI trainers/borrowers to provide peer-to-peer mentoring for these newest groups. They were accompanied by WMI's interns Montana Stevenson and Ainsley Morris. The women were extremely attentive and took extensive notes on the book keeping and business skills training. Pictures of WMI's newest borrowers and their villages are posted on the web site blog.

WMI has been very fortunate in receiving grants from non-profit organizations here in the United States to support these new loan programs. The Kamal Foundation provided a $3,250 grant for the loans in Wabulenga. Founded by local D.C. restaurateur, Kamal Jahanbein, the Kamal Foundation builds schools and health facilities in underdeveloped countries around the world, including: Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Nicaragua and Laos. The Saloon, at 1206 U Street NW in the District, is Kamal's flagship restaurant and it features bricks engraved with the names of thousands of donors who have supported his foundation's worldwide service projects.

The Mpambara Cox Foundation provided a $2,200 grant for the loans in Kabale. MCF's mission is to create community based partnerships between Africa and the U.S. that provide an opportunity for direct and authentic engagement. That made their work in Kabale a perfect fit for WMI's loan program. Since May 2008, MCF has partnered over 10 schools in Uganda with schools in the U.S. (Maryland and Kentucky) to expand the horizons of U.S. children while providing an improved learning environment for schools in rural Africa. Some of the first borrowers in Kabale are parents of the children who have benefited from participating in MCF's school-linked programs.

WMI Program Location Map Added To Web Site

In January 2011 WMI is scheduled to launch yet another village loan program - this time in Konokoya, Uganda. That will bring the total number of loan programs in Uganda and Kenya to seven. To help supporters track WMI's expansion a new feature has been added to the web site: a map of all of WMI's loan programs in Uganda and Kenya and a listing of the local community-based organizations that administer the programs. Check it out! Loan Program Map.

Bethesda MagazineArticle Features WMI

The November/December issue of Bethesda Magazine is subtitled, The Women's Issue and features a piece called "Women We Admire" that includes Robyn Nietert and WMI. It is posted under the WMI web site NEWS tab. The article mentions WMI's 100% repayment rate and the fact that the loan program is administered in the village by WMI borrowers. WMI's president was honored to be selected to be interviewed along with other metro area women who are working to make a difference. The article has the potential to raise WMI's visibility in the Washington D.C. area where WMI receives a significant amount of support. Click here to check it out! Magazine Article.

Montana and Ainsley on the Road in Uganda and Kenya

It has been just one month since Montana and Ainsley set out on their 5-month mission to work with existing WMI village loan programs, launch new ones, conduct face to face surveys with borrowers about their banking needs and prepare a written manual for the transition to independent banking. In that short time period, they have visited each WMI loan program hub, from Kabale in far southwest Uganda to Ol Moran in central Kenya. All of WMI's local community partners were extremely grateful that these WMI representatives took the time and effort to travel to their rural villages to help issue new loans, explain paperwork, meet with local bank branch managers, resolve administrative problems and review budgeting And, they showed it! With singing, dancing and home-cooked local specialties, the young women were treated to a warm outpouring of hospitality at every stop. Now back in Buyobo for the next month, Tana and Ainlsey are conducting interviews with borrowers and bank staff in preparation of drafting a manual of written guidelines for the borrowers' transition to independent banking. To follow their journey, visit their blog on the WMI web site - Notes from Uganda: Blog.

Towards Sustainability Foundation Awards WMI $10,000 Grant

The Towards Sustainability Foundation recently awarded WMI a grant in the amount of $10,000. This grant helped WMI complete the 2010 funding for the guarantee account at Postbank Uganda that secures the 1 year loans the bank makes to WMI borrowers as they transition to independent banking. WMI is extremely grateful for this grant and for the recognition that our unique Transition to Independence Program (TIP) provides impoverished women a chance to work their way from chronic poverty to financial autonomy. This is the third year in a row that TSF has provided WMI with a grant and this support has been crucial to helping WMI reach its goal of graduating poor women to participation in their country's formal economy.

WMI Presentation at The Lowell School

At the end of October, WMI was invited to make a presentation on microfinance and the WMI loan program to 6th graders at The Lowell School in Upper Northwest Washington, D.C. The school's curriculum includes generic discussions about the impact of small loans on the lives of extremely poor people. The students were very engaged and particularly interested in the mechanics of loan program operations. After an hour that included a very lively question and answer period, two students came forward to present WMI's President with a $500 contribution on behalf of the sixth grade class and the school. All of us at WMI were very touched by this extremely generous gesture of support.

WMI appreciated the opportunity to speak to these young people about the difference just a small loan can make in the lives of impoverished women. Part of the presentation emphasized that even young students can be pro-active about social causes that are important to them. WMI believes that educating youth about social justice issues is an important mission and welcomes the opportunity to speak at schools in the area.

WMI Attends Introduction of Financial Access 2010 at World Bank

In late September, the Financial Access 2010 report was released at a conference hosted by the World Bank. This is the second year the data has been compiled from information submitted by financial regulators in 142 countries. The report provides insight into the amount of access people have to financial services in the reporting countries, which include Uganda and Kenya, where WMI currently operates loan programs. Sub-Saharan Africa still lags far behind most of the world in access to financial services: in Kenya, less than 40% of the people have bank accounts; in Uganda less than 20% of the people have bank accounts.

WMI's Robyn Nietert and interns Andrew Lloyd and Montanan Stevenson attended the conference. In the discussion following the introduction of the report, Nietert asked about the steps that were taken to verify the accuracy of the information reported by participating countries. When informed that there is no follow up, Nietert pointed out the pitfalls this creates for organizations operating on the ground that are trying to deliver financial services to disenfranchised populations. Without follow up, countries listing vigorous financial outreach services to their citizens may not actually be implementing those services. The lack of follow up may also encourage countries to report banking services that are not readily available in order to bolster their public image.

President of The Greater Contribution Podcasts for WMI

Karon Wright is President and Executive Director of The Greater Contribution, a California-based non-profit organization that supports microloans to help the world's poorest women start businesses. This past year, the Greater Contribution started a collaboration with WMI, providing over $9,000 in ongoing support for new loan issues. In a recorded podcast, Karon talked with SAS' Gail Massari about the loan recipients she met during a trip to Buyobo, Uganda in April 2010, their 100% loan repayment rate and how, after two years in the loan program, the women graduate to participate in the formal economy and banking system. WMI met Gail, whose part-time skills include recording podcasts, this summer - as a statistical expert with SAS, she volunteered to assist WMI's interns in using the JMP software to track and analyze loan program data. The podcast provides Karen's insights into why she thinks the WMI program is a success and why her organization has chosen to support it. The podcast is available on the WMI web site under NEWS. Click here to listen: Podcast

Thank You!

Please feel free to contact any board members with your input. Thank you so much for your ongoing interest and support. We are all helping change the face of poverty, one loan at a time.

WMI Board of Directors

Robyn Nietert rgnietert@aol.com
Betsy Gordon betsygord@mac.com
Deborah Smith deborahwsmith@yahoo.com
June Kyakobye junekyaks@verizon.net
Trix Vandervossen bvandervossen@imf.org
Jane Erickson ericksonjn@verizon.net
Terry Ciccotelli teresa.t.ciccotelli@saint-gobain.com