Click here -> Snapshot of WMI loans as of October 2016
Click here -> 2015 Annual Report
Click here -> 2014 Annual Report
Click here -> 2013 Annual Report
Click here -> 2012 Annual Report
Click here -> 2011 Annual Report
Click here -> 2010 Annual Report
Click here -> 2009 Annual Report
2015 Program Accomplishments
Loan Hub Activity
- This year WMI continued its impressive growth, increasing its new borrowers by 65% over 2014 (8,000 in total) and issued 6,300 loans totaling $828,000, at an average of $150 per loan. To date, WMI has issued 22,500 loans totaling $3.3 million.
- The revolving loan fund stands at $800,000, providing quarterly loans to our borrowers for a period of two years, at which time the borrower graduates and the funds are available to a new borrower.
- WMI assisted over 1,000 women in their transition to independent banking in Uganda, providing them support and working with PBU to ensure a smooth graduation to the formal economy. The WMI loan program has graduated 3,000 borrowers to date.
Loan Hub Expansion
- WMI added a new microfinance loan hub in the Mukono region of central Uganda in partnership with Suubi Community Projects. Mukono has 9 villages and was severely affected by the 1981-86 civil war. As people were displaced, the agricultural economy was decimated and socio-economic structures were weakened. The program started operations with two 20-member loan groups.
- WMI also expanded loan program operations to a third location in Tanzania through a partnership with Weston Turville Wells for Tanzania. We had previously worked with WTWT on financial literacy training -- their microfinance program did not meet WMI's women-based program model. Based on their loan repayment experience, in 2015 WTWT decided to limit their program to women borrowers and is delighted to be able to partner fully with WMI.
- WMI continues to work with hub staff on a host of management skills, including bookkeeping, budgeting and accounting.
- The Adult Literacy Entrepreneurship Group decided they wanted to start an entrepreneurship project, so WMI helped them get started. The ladies involved in the project wanted to learn how to make crafts so they could sell them to generate more income. The ladies are learning how to create household goods such as couch seat and table coverings, which are used as decorations in Uganda. The ladies hope to sell these goods to local customers for a profit.
- The "Girls Group" for P-7 students continues to hold programs designed to empower and educate young teenage girls on healthy behaviors and responsible life skills, as well as entrepreneurship skills.
- WMI supervised the making of reusable menstrual pads (RUMPS) in Buyobo Primary School to help girls, most of whom cannot afford to buy disposable pads, and prevent them from staying home from school due to their menstrual cycle. Eighty-five girls in Primary 6 and 7 classes, ranging in age from twelve to fourteen years old attended, from both Buyobo Primary School and Buyobo Parents. WMI is also looking at funding other "feminine products" to ensure girls are able to continue their schooling.
- WMI conducted a financial literacy training program for girls in Kabale, similar to the one we are operating in Buyobo through a grant to Rukundo International, one of our Kibale program partners.
- Noting that many of PBU's non-WMI customers lack sufficient financial literacy skills to manage their money effectively, the bank asked WMI trainers to develop a program to train other PBU customers who need to develop financial management skills. This is quite a compliment to our Buyobo staff -- they have taken the lead in preparing highly effective training materials and techniques and now have a track record of success.
- Jumbo Loans. In 2015 WMI started a pilot "jumbo loan" project, lending 1M Uganda shilling loans to its most experienced borrowers. These specialized loans are used when our partner commercial banks are unable to structure loans that meet some of the women's unique borrowing requirements. By the end of the year, WMI made jumbo loans to 80 women and repayment rate was 100%. To qualify for these larger loans borrowers must have had a 100% repayment rate and attendance for their two years in the WMI program, more than the minimum required savings, and a successful business. WMI plans to expand the program in 2016.
- Insurance. Generally, the concept of insurance is a hard-sell in Uganda, but after informational presentations, the women in the Buyobo hub decided that paying a small additional fee into an insurance pool could relieve them of the obligation to repay another member's loan in the event of that member's death. This way the risk could be spread over the entire borrower population, and not just the 19 remaining members of any particular loan group. Local WMI leadership had a very long and thoughtful discussion of what would be an insurable loss (bad crops, illness, incapacity, disappearance, etc.) but ultimately determined to insure only against death since it was a clear event not subject to judgment, and put the program in place. Interestingly, their comfort with the insurance concept (insuring against a low probability/high financial risk consequence) as related to loan repayment, is slowly paving the way to more general acceptance of the concepts of life and health insurances. As a result, we are introducing a pilot program with women (WMI local staff) in a third-party hospitalization insurance plan to see if it is a viable product for our borrower population.
- Solar Lamps. A WMI supporter recently donated over 600 solar LED lamps to WMI. The lamps were given as a graduation gift to a group of borrowers who had paid back their loans in full. Several different brands were purchased with the idea of determining which performs best. The lamps cost about $8 each, well out of the affordability range for most borrowers. Once we determine which lamp performs best we will develop a plan for group purchases. Solar lamps are a crucial part to an advanced standard of living as the majority of borrowers do not have access to electricity. The kerosene lamps still widely in use in villages are expensive, dangerous and unhealthy.
- Sewing Machines. WMI is working on a pilot Sewing Machine project with the Tuzamurane Cooperative in Mbyo village, Bugesera District, Rwanda. Under the agreement, WMI will provide loan funding for purchase of up to 27 sewing machines by the CBO members to generate income for themselves and the CBO. The loan will be repaid from the products produced by the Cooperative and profits are to be directed to paying school fees and obtaining health insurance.
- We bid good-bye to our 204-2015 Fellow Melissa LaReau who gave us two very successful years in training and assisting the Buyobo leadership in establishing good office and financial procedures and practices. She also greatly expanded girls group and introduced a number of new programs.
- Our new fellow, Ashley Van Waes, joined us in October. Ashley received her BA cum laude from the University of Nebraska with a focus in International Business and Economics. Before receiving the Fellowship, she was with AmeriCorps, working at the American Red Cross in New Orleans, LA where she assisted clients in their recovery process after both small and large-scale disasters.
- WMI sponsored 8 volunteers in the US and Uganda, this year. Three interns worked in the WMI loan program offices in Buyobo, Uganda. In addition to general office work, computer training, and budget development, the interns developed videos, pictures and stories of the borrowers, and updated the blog.
- A very talented group of 5 college interns worked in Bethesda to compile and analyze our annual survey data. They developed Loan Impact Fact Books that consolidate information into country-wide reports, analyzing regional trends.