When we were visiting our House 2 House families in Guder, we also met with two women, the secretary and treasurer from the local Sunrise Women’s Enterprise Association.
The two women had come to the Woreda Women’s Affairs office to tell us all about their community lending program, and to ask us if we were interested in partnering with them. We had previously spoken to Sintayehu and had indicated that we were interesting in a micro lending program, and after he met this enterprising group of women, he thought we would like to meet them too.
There are approximately 35 women currently involved in Sunrise’s community lending circle. Almost all the women have young families, often with many children.
Each women contributed 3birr (that’s about 20 cents) to join the association. Each month, a woman’s name is chosen by lottery to receive a loan of 100 birr. She has one month to return the loan with 5 birr interest. The loans are intended to help the women start very small businesses, such as selling tomatoes at the market.
Interestingly, each borrower has a guarantor within the lending circle, so if the borrower cannot repay, her guarantor steps in. After two years, they have cycled through all their members twice, and not one loan has gone delinquent.
It was awesome to see such enthusiastic young women taking leadership in their community to change their lives. All of us were very impressed with their professionalism and passion. When we asked what support they were wanting from us, they basically said they needed a capital infusion. The loans were often helpful to get the women out of difficult situations, but were not really large enough to have a long term impact and bring them out of extreme poverty.
As an example, the secretary of Sunrise Women’s Enterprise Association wants to have a herd of 5 sheep. With that many sheep, she can sustain her young family. She is looking for a loan to purchase the first two sheep, so that they could have offspring and establish a herd.
The association is supported by the local Woreda office. In fact, three of the staff members were there at our visit, and two sat in on the meeting to support the two young women. Once again I was struck by how well the local government is connected with the nonprofit and community groups.
We asked the secretary and treasurer to put together a little proposal with all the names of the women in the association, and other information, such as the appropriate new business loan amount, the total amount of capital investment, etc.
In May, we will meet as a board and one of the many items for discussion will be the Sunrise Women’s Enterprise Association proposal. Vice-president Dacia Douhaibi has been doing research into different kinds of micro financing models and will also be shaping our discussion.
We’d be interested in hearing from you, as supporters and sponsors… What do you think? Is community lending an area you think we should get involved in? Please leave your comments on this blog post.
For some reason, comments don’t seem to be working and I can’t fix it from Ethiopia. So you can leave comments here: http://rowanfamilytree.com/2012/05/03/sunrise-womens-enterprise-association