Doreen visiting a successful new market stallholder
In 2008, YOFAFO started a micro-finance program for women in the village of Bulimaji. This program provides small loans to women who, as females, would not otherwise be able to secure one without the colateral of a father or husband’s land. The women use these loans to start small businesses which in turn, gives them a sense of independence and self-esteem while at the same time enabling them to better provide for their families. Women are placed in groups of five and guarantee each other for the loans. Loans start at US$50 and YOFAFO also provides the women with education about financial management. There are currently about 120 people participating in the program (mostly women), which has a loan recovery rate of almost 100 per cent. The long-term goalis to generate sufficient income through loan repayments and interest so the microfinance project can expand itself without outside donations.
When women succeed in their small business, it positively affects many lives around them apart from their own. There is a flow on effect to the whole community.
In the villages supported by Yofafo, the foundation has also established women’s empowerment programs. These include donating animals to women so they can start agriculture businesses, and providing training in tailoring and craft, with products sold locally and internationally via our sponsors and volunteers. Yofafo has also purchased some land with a long-term view to develop larger scale community farming.
One of the beneficiaries of this loan is Nalongo and her family. Two years ago, Nalongo and her husband bought a piece of land for their family. Nalongo worked hard tilling the land from morning till dusk but yielded very little produce. With a microfinance loan from ESTC, her family has now managed to get hired help to work on the land. As a result, their yield increased significantly and she has bought a bicycle to transport the goods to the market instead of having to carry them on her head, thereby increasing her efficiency. With the additional income on hand, she is now able to provide better education for her children.
The cow give-away project is a longer-term venture. With the funds provided, YOFAFO gave away three pregnant heifers to a women’s group in the village. It wasn’t a case of the village just receiving the aid. The event spurred the community to raise money together to plant elephant grass and even build a cow shelter to feed and house each cow.
Village income has been boosted through many ways: milk production is a new source of income, and the use of manure has led to higher food yields.
This project has shifted the paradigm of the entire village. They used to believe heifers were meant only for the rich. They now see anyone can care for heifers and greater incomes will result if the animals are well looked after. The whole community is now ready to do all it takes for the animals to thrive.