Buyobo, Uganda Fellowship

Located in Sironko District (about 30 minutes from Mbale), Buyobo, Uganda is a bustling village which serves as the headquarters for the Women's Microfinance Initiative. The loan program has over 2,500 clients in the area and is administered by the Buyobo Women's Association, through a grant from WMI. Olive Wolimbwa, chair of BWA, is the Local Director for the loan program.

The Fellowship is a position that supports the expansion of the capacity of the WMI loan program on all fronts. The Fellow's basic function is to: help build human capacity among the staff; assist in implementing effective systems operations; troubleshoot loan program operating issues; improve staff computer and technology skills; interface with other loan hubs; manage visitors and interns; and, generally act as a right hand to the Local Director. Sometimes this means organizing documents, instituting filing and reporting systems, automating records, creating content for manuals, teaching girls' group lessons, and documenting program activities (photographs, surveys, and interviews). The Fellow interfaces with other non-profits to build collaborations. The Fellow also prepares regular updates on the WMI Blog, files weekly reports, and creates content for the WMI web site.

The Fellow is based in Buyobo, but may travel to other WMI loan hubs in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania, with loan program staff. The loan hubs are in very rural areas with limited infrastructure - often there is no power or plumbing - and very basic accommodations. The 2020/2021 FELLOWSHIP HAS BEEN SUSPENDED DUE TO THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC.


Starting date: July 15, 2020

Ending date: September 1, 2021

Term: 13.5 months

Stipend: $500 per month

Meals and Accommodations: Provided

Transport: Fellow must provide transport to Uganda. All Fellowship related transport during the Term is provided or reimbursed

Insurance: Fellow must provide her own insurance

Requirements: College degree; experience in microfinance or working in rural areas of East Africa helpful but not required; community development skills preferred; excellent communication skills; comfortable with photography, videography and creating media content for web site. The Fellow is first and foremost a problem solver and sounding board for loan program issues. The Fellow must be collaborative, flexible, outgoing, creative, able to work independently, comfortable working closely with women in the loan program on how to improve operations, and nonplussed by living in a rural environment. Fellow must execute a release and liability waiver.

Click here for Buyobo Fellowship application


WMI FELLOW - 2019/2020

2019/2020 Buyobo Fellow Caitlin SeandelWMI welcomes Kaycee Corcoran as the 2019/2020 Resource Fellow in Buyobo, Uganda! Originally from Philadelphia, PA, she earned her BA in Sociology from Penn State. After graduating in December 2016, she embarked on her 26-month Peace Corps Service in a rural town in Eastern Uganda, teaching alternative gardening to combat climate change, especially drought, and methods to improve household nutrition through diet changes.

Additionally, she worked at the grassroots level with women's groups to introduce low capital income-generating products that could meet local needs such as bio briquettes (formed charcoal made from organic materials or charcoal dust), and potholders. Previously, the village had used gathered firewood and women experienced burnt fingers daily before they started sewing their own potholders, both of which are now small sources of income for the women in the group.

Kaycee is also a founding partner and manager of Beyond Culture LTD, a Ugandan based non-profit that has created a fashion line, provides management assistance for musicians, and spearheads other social projects and fundraising events related to the arts. She hopes to gain more insight into micro-finance and how micro-lending enables women in rural communities. This is the beginning of her third year in lovely Uganda, and she is ecstatic to share the next year with the women of Buyobo, helping to manage and expand loan program operations.

WMI FELLOW - 2017/2019

2017/18 Buyobo Fellow Caitlin SeandelWMI would like to welcome our 2017/2018 fellow Caitlin Seandel! Caitlin is originally from the San Francisco Bay Area in California and holds two bachelor degrees from San Diego State. Her primary BA is in International Security and Conflict Resolution with an emphasis in conflict and conflict management with her secondary degree in Women's Studies. During her time on campus she worked within organizations that represented the students of color where she not only participated in but organized campus, city and state-wide rallies. These experiences coupled with her education allowed her to realize her passion was in human rights/social justice and international development. Due to her love of travel and never ending-curiosity she spent a semester abroad in Madrid where she studied Spanish and international development. It was during this semester that Caitlin found her love for the developing world after a short weekend in Marrakesh.

After graduation, she moved to Phnom Penh to teach English for a year. While there, she not only taught English but created and facilitated a women empowerment workshop for her peers through an organization called the Cambodian Arts and Scholarship Foundation.

Caitlin is joining WMI after being in tech sales in the Bay Area for 2 years. During this time she mastered lead development, headed up hiring and training, as well as operational improvement at the corporate level. While she learned a lot in this role, her career in international development has been a long time coming and she is excited to be given the opportunity to work with BWA and WMI to continue to improve the great work that is already being accomplished!

WMI FELLOW - 2016/2017

2016/17 Buyobo Fellow Kirsten MinerWMI welcomes Kirsten Miner as the 2016/2017 Resource Fellow in Buyobo, Uganda. Kirsten is a Washington State native and holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Washington in Public Health and Women Studies. Before graduating in 2011, Kirsten served as the Women's Action Commission Director under the Associated Students of the UW, working together with the campus Women's Center to represent the interests of the 20,000 women constituents of the University. She developed a keen interest in the intersection between economic policies and their effects on population health and wrote her undergraduate thesis on the effects of conditional cash transfer programs on health outcomes for women and children in Central America.

Following graduation, Kirsten served for two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in a rural village in Zambia's Muchinga Province. Her work focused primarily on implementing malnutrition intervention and malaria reduction programs, as well as conducting health education campaigns on HIV prevention and maternal health. She also worked extensively with girls' and women's groups and partnered with local NGOs to bring reproductive health services to local clinics.

Kirsten is joining WMI from Seattle's Center for Infectious Disease Research, where she spearheaded the Center's Global Health Seminar series and provided administrative support across several labs and departments. She is thrilled to be returning to Africa to support WMI's field work.

WMI FELLOW - 2015/2016

2015/16 Buyobo Fellow Ashely Van WaesThe WMI Fellow for 2015/2016 is Ashely Van Waes, who hails from the great state of Nebraska. Ashley received her Bachelor's degree cum laude at the University of Nebraska with a focus on International Business and Economics. During her college career, Ashley became involved in development and gender economics. She took a special interest in social provisioning and studied extensively how microfinance organizations operate effectively in low-resource settings.

Ashley studied abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina during which time she volunteered at a local women's shelter. She also worked as a Community Development Intern at the Nebraska Department of Economic Development to monitor the effectiveness of block grants in communities across the state. Upon graduation from college, Ashley took a position with the International Association of Feminist Economics (IAFFE) as a research aid and eventually an event coordinator. She spearheaded the coordination of the 2014 IAFFE Annual Conference held in Ghana. Her trip to Africa galvanized her desire to work on the ground and strengthen her field experience. Before receiving the Fellowship, she was with Americorps, working at the American Red Cross in New Orleans, Louisiana where she responds to large and small-scale disasters to assist clients in their recovery process.


2014 Buyobo Fellow Melissa LaReauWMI's 2014 Resource Fellow is Melissa LaReau. Melissa holds a master's degree in international affairs from Texas A&M University and bachelor's degrees in economics and political science from Hartwick College (NY). She also holds a professional certificate in photography from the Washington School of Photography and is certified to teach English as a Foreign Language.

During graduate school Melissa studied international affairs, with a concentration in international economic development, at the Bush School of Government and Public Service. She worked closely with the Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture and was involved with the creation of their post-conflict and development database.

Melissa's undergraduate economics thesis was a case study on microfinance. She spent time in Ayacucho, Peru gathering data on group lending and developed a game theoretic model that demonstrated why women are incentivized to pay back their loans. Her political science thesis was based on research she did in China and involved research around the Chinese adoption policies and the migration of Chinese children to the United States.

In addition, Melissa was an exchange student in Recife, Brazil and has studied abroad in Ireland, India, Singapore, Sri Lanka, and the Philippines. She has travelled to more than 15 countries and speaks Portuguese and Spanish. Melissa left her position as a senior transfer pricing economist with Ernst & Young (where she has worked since 2011) to join the women of Buyobo for a one year term starting in October 2013.


2013 Buyobo Fellow Liz MooneyWMI's 2013 Resource Fellow in Buyobo is Liz Mooney. She joins Hannah for several weeks and then takes over until the end of November. Liz received her BA from Brown University, where she concentrated in International Relations with a curricular focus on Global Security and a regional focus on the Middle East. She has had three years of Arabic Language study, which involved courses in translation and literature, and participated in a language immersion program at Alexandria University in Alexandria, Egypt.

Liz's interest in microfinance grew as an undergrad in college while working as an Associate at the Capital Good Fund (CGF), a financial empowerment organization based in Providence, Rhode Island. At CGF she developed a wholly-owned, for-profit subsidiary called Capital Good Technologies, dedicated to closing the digital divide among low-income Americans by offering an affordable line of environmentally-friendly technology products.

Most recently, Liz worked as a Research Analyst at Milcord where her research activities involved building a semantic knowledge base to represent relational information of data relevant for analysis of foreign humanitarian assistance operations.


2012 Buyobo Fellow Hannah KahlWe are very happy to announce that he first WMI Resource Fellow has been selected: Hannah Kahl. She is a native of Martha's Vineyard, MA and previously worked with Earth Birth in Atiak, Uganda as a community organizer. WMI opened the new loan hub in Atiak in April with Hannah's assistance.

Hannah is a 2006 graduate of the University of New Hampshire, urham, NH with a Bachelors in anthropology. She graduated Cumma Sum Laude and was admitted into Phi Beta Kappa (undergraduate honors organization).

The trip to Uganda planned by Hannah and her colleague was profiled in the October 12, 2011 edition of the Martha's Vineyard Times:

"This winter, Lila Fischer of West Tisbury and Hannah Kahl of Chilmark will travel to Uganda where they will work at Earth Birth, an international women's health collective. The center serves a community of people who have been displaced and traumatized by war, in an environment where there is an extreme shortage of material resources. Ms. Fischer and Ms. Kahl will be working there for at least three months, but possibly longer, Ms. Fischer as a midwife and Ms. Kahl as a social activist.

Ms. Fischer and Ms. Kahl have been friends for most of their lives, from when they did gymnastics training together as kids on a cross-country road trip together after college... Last November, Ms. Fischer graduated from a 13-month program at Maternidad la Luz, a midwifery school based in El Paso, Texas, becoming a Certified Professional Midwife. She met Olivia Kimball, one of the founding organizers of Earth Birth, at a midwifery conference last fall. "I also had this idea to go to Uganda because my cousin, Nathaniel Scott, is there working with US AID," says Ms. Fischer.

Ms. Kahl majored in anthropology at University of New Hampshire. "That was a really important time in terms of the direction I'm taking now," she says, "because I met some guys from the Sudan who became my good friends, and I started being interested in that area."

After college, she traveled and worked. "I took a job doing community organizing in the lowest income parts of Boston. That was another big moment for me, seeing what resources and education can do for people who are victims of the system or feel like they're victims of the system." Later, she and another friend, Kate Hubbell, bicycled from New Hampshire to El Paso to visit Ms. Fischer. From there, Ms. Kahl went to work for the Center for Social Leadership at San Miguel de Allende in central Mexico, and now she is back on Island for a few month."

Hannah is assisting Olive Wolimbwa, WMI's Local Director, and WMI's East Africa team with building their management capacity and setting up systems and procedures to supervise all loan hub activity. She is visiting visit all loan hubs and assist with budgeting and program.

WMI Project Directors (Pre-cursor to WMI Fellows) 2010 - 2011

Ainsley MorrisMontana Stevenson and Ainsley Morris were in Uganda and Kenya working on WMI projects for 10 months starting in September 2010. They traveled to Kabale in Southwestern Uganda to launch new loan programs and as far as Nyahururu in central Kenya to visit existing ones. In between, they visited other WMI village programs in Kenya and throughout Uganda to collect data and train borrowers and hub managers. Their visits provided first-hand information on program operations and impact.

Montana StevensonIn January 2011, WMI graduated its first borrowers to independent loans with PostBank Uganda (PBU). Montana and Ainsley surveyed 120 WMI borrowers and conducted personal interviews with half of them to understand their banking needs. Their research led to the development of the longitudinal study on the impact of the loan program on borrowers and their families. click here. They met with PBU staff and prepared a written manual for the transition to independent banking process. click here. After reviewing book keeping practices, they prepared a basic accounting tutorial and provided advanced training to help ensure financial autonomy.

Montana was an Echols Scholar at the University of Virginia, graduating in 2010 with a history major and economics minor. She traveled to Uganda in January 2008 to help launch the loan program and has interned with WMI each summer since then, leading a high school summer internship visit to Buyobo in June, 2010. Ainsley graduated in 2010 from the University of Edinburgh with a Master's of Arts with Honors in Economics. She worked with WMI over the summer of 2010 to develop surveys and outline the transition manual.

The banking study, transition manual and advanced training was supported in part by a generous grant from the Boeing Corporation and was conducted in conjunction with PBU. WMI was very fortunate to have the expertise of these two dedicated and talented young women to help expand the loan program infrastructure.

For pictures and comments about Montana and Ainsley's journey, follow their blog at:

To see a slide show of Montana and Ainsley's work in the villages, click here.

Montana and Ainsley with the new WMI borrowers in Wabulenga B village, Uganda
Montana and Ainsley with the new WMI borrowers in Wabulenga B village, Uganda