Women's Microfinance Initiative in Uganda

by tuftsigl
Jul 03

Kristi HIll will be a junior this year, majoring in International Relations.

Women’s Microfinance Initiative (WMI) is an organization that works to empower rural women by providing them with the skills and the capital necessary to become successful entrepreneurs. WMI is composed of multiple village level loan hubs and provides services to women all throughout Uganda, with other hubs in Kenya and Tanzania. Local women, who oversee program operations and provide trainings to new borrowers, run each hub.

During my fellowship this summer, I have been working together with two other interns on a number of projects at the main office in Buyobo, Uganda. The most sizeable project is a longitudinal study of independent borrowers. We are hoping that the study will provide valuable insight into the loan program’s impact on the local community. Women in the WMI program go through stages of successively larger loans until eventually graduating to commercial bank loans. Independent borrowers are those women who have graduated to commercial banks.  So far, we have interviewed over forty independent borrowers and it has been fascinating to hear their stories and perspectives on the program. Women describe many different positive impacts of the loan program, ranging from a decrease in domestic violence in the community to an increase in the number of children attending school. We are hoping to finish interviewing women in the next few weeks so that we can begin compiling and analyzing the data from our surveys.

We have also been working to create short videos for the WMI website that will help potential donors better understand loan program operations, and more generally, daily life in rural Uganda. While getting footage for this project I have had the opportunity to attend new borrower trainings and loan repayment days, and I am looking forward to a borrower graduation in a few weeks. Attending these events is always exciting, and they have been some of the highlights of my fellowship.

This past month at WMI has been an incredible experience, and I am looking forward to the coming month, especially analyzing the survey data and compiling it into a fact book.

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