Goma, DR Congo, June 20, 2010 || Many supporters and sponsors ask me about how the direct aid is given to the women each month. In Goma, the participants are part of a credit and savings cooperative – a pilot program initiated by WfWI to meet the savings objective of Project ESPOIR. According to the expectations set by USAID, at least 50% of the women must save through a formal institution. The partnership set up in Goma with a local credit and savings union called Mutuelle D’Epargne et de Credit de Ndosho ensures that all women in our Goma program are saving a portion of their sponsorship funds through these formal channels.
Each woman goes to the credit and savings co-op on a specified date each month. The cashier asks for the participant’s name and the name of her WfWI training group. After identifying the woman based on her name and her picture, the cashier administers the sponsorship funds. 30%, or $3USD, is deposited into the woman’s savings account; 70%, or $7USD, is given to the woman to use as she sees fit – food, school fees, clothing, and capital to grow small businesses. The participant signs her name or makes an ink thumb-print next to her name and savings amount. Upon completion of the year-long program, the woman will have saved $36USD, sometimes the largest sum of money they have seen at one time. This way, the women are guaranteed to have a large portion of funds available to them at the end of their training to reinvest in their businesses and advance their economic activities. They are also eligible for micro-loans and small credits for being part of the cooperative.
Faida, the graduate who was highlighted in my last story, says that the women are very lucky to have such an opportunity. This was not available to her during her training. She encourages the women to continue to save even after graduation and to take advantage of this opportunity. This way, their husbands cannot take their money. It is in a safe place, growing and maturing each month, just like them.
Liam Dall is the Senior Major Gifts Officer at Women for Women International. He traveled to Rwanda and DR Congo in June 2010.