For a Better Future
At the end of war people are left with nothing. War destroys physical assets, the ability to earn an income and the capacity to save money. Starting from scratch is a long road to financial security.
It is even more challenging to start over without money, which is the reality for most of the women in our programs. There are no banks where they live and have little access to capital. Instead they rely on informal networks, most often a type of revolving fund where they save money as a group and are able to borrow from the communal funds. However, the amounts are often small and the impact modest.
To improve access to capital, AWR provides basic training in record keeping and business skills to help women advance their revolving funds. We use a proven Village Loan and Saving methodology that is based on savings, learning basic business skills and access to capital. Groups which can show evidence of sustained savings are provided with a grant of $250, money used to increase the amount women can borrow. Instead of taking loans of a few dollars they are now able to borrow 20-75 USD. This helps increase the amount of business women can do and also increases the profits. Loans are managed by the groups themselves and returned with an interest, the rate is decided amongst the group members.
The viability of African Women Rising’s model lies in its use of community mobilizers who provide technical support and mentoring for each group over a three-year period. Over the last 5 years AWR groups have saved a collective $3.2 million and reached $1 million in 2018 alone. All done with weekly savings of between 27c to 1 dollar.
Our Micro-finance Program
Beatrice started her bakery after her husband died and she needed more money to complete her children’s education. With help from AWR micro finance loans she has been able to build the bakery into a thriving business that employs 10 people and produces 1,800 buns a day. Her own 7 children are grown now but she takes care of another 15 children, 8 are orphans.
Becky started her business 3 years ago with the help of a loan from AWR. She started small and has built it up over the years. “I sell fish, soda and fruit, it is all wholesale. Business has been good and I can pay the school fees for my children. These days people respect me.” Becky, 29 years old.
“Starting a new business is not easy. AWR has been supporting me all the way, helping me figure out how I could earn more money and giving me encouragement. I almost gave up but now I have a store at home, selling small things like cooking oil, matches, sugar and salt. I recently added sodas and now people come here to relax. After they relax they buy things.”
“My name is Nancy, I am 22 years old and have 2 children. I used to be all alone, but now I am with an AWR group and have support. I never saved money before. These days I save and I know how to manage it. I put my savings into farming and baking, it gives me good business and an income to support the children. I went to school but dropped out early because my family didn’t have money for school fees, I always had problems reading and writing. Now I am a student at the adult literacy center.”
Each group have a box where they keep their money and savings books. Ideally the box should never have larger amounts of money in it as it is used for loans. The box has 3 locks, the keys with 3 different women. The location of the box is always kept secret to reduce theft. Once groups have larger amounts of money we help them start a bank account.
“My husband left me a few years ago for another woman. It has not been easy. Having access to money helps. My business is growing very well. It was through my group that I was able to do it, they helped me start it. I am happy because AWR brought the training and I can get loans. I am even able to send my daughters to 10th grade.” Filda, 45 years old
“I am 34 years old and have 6 children. It’s been hard from me to support the children, money has always been a problem. When my group started to work with AWR that all changed. I was able to get loans and they trained me in business skills. Now I have a business selling fish at the market. I can send the children to school and pay for health care. My 12 year old daughter has severe malaria for 2 months, she almost died but is slowly getting better. If I hadn’t had this business and income I am sure I would be grieving now.” Beatrice Labol
“I left my husband. He was drinking too much and would get violent, hitting me and the children. He would start with the children and then come to me. The loans I get from the group has helped me so much, we don’t lack food now and I pay for school fees. I like farming together with the group. The women give me advice, they are all older than me and have a lot of experience.” Grace, 28 years old, mother of 5.
Groups meet once a week, often in the shade of a tree. They save money, are able to take loans and, most importantly, give each other support. For many of the women the group is a place where they feel safe, get to spend time with friends and relax for a moment.