Women and Wezesha
Empowering Women in Burundi
Wezesha is the name of ERDO’s microfinance program in Burundi. In Swahili, “wezesha” means to empower. In one of the poorest countries in the world, we are seeing women empowered to become financially independent through small loans. When a woman earns her own income she can lift her family out of poverty!
Microfinance loans are meeting a critical need for women and their families. In addition to loans, Wezesha provides women who already have small businesses such as sewing or selling fruits and vegetables, with access to business management training.
The women involved in the program have the willingness to work hard for the dignity of providing for their families. Join us by investing in a woman’s dream for self-sufficiency. By donating $75, you can provide one woman in the Wezesha program with microfinance loans and business training.
Wezesha is in Burundi, which is one of the poorest countries in the world.
By lending to women, we empower people who have survived things like abuse, sexual violence and forced displacement. Together we provide needed financial services, a pathway to a safer life and an opportunity for these women to join a community of faith.
The businesses are all very small and can take many forms. Mobile venders, who prepare and sell food, are included as well as roadside venders and owners of small kiosks or market stalls.
With guidance from local staff, women form lending groups of five people. These groups provide accountability and support throughout the lending and repayment process. Once approved, each member receives a home and business visit and goes through a pre-loan training process. After this, they receive their first loan which range from $75-100 (local currency equivalent). Each borrower repays their loan on a weekly basis, which enables project staff to track progress easily. Once they repay their initial loan, borrowers are eligible for another larger loan. As loans are repaid, that loan capital goes back to form a new loan for another woman.
We encourage women to expand their businesses, but only to the degree to which they feel comfortable. The goal is not simply to lend money. The goal is to meet needs and to enable borrowers to tangibly improve their quality of life.
Women who are in desperate need and who are currently working in some type of business to generate income qualify for Wezesha. Women who support their children and families, and are in extreme need, are part of this program.
The women do not have the option of taking a loan from a traditional bank as banks do not want to lend money to women because it is considered too risky and without sufficient profit.
Once a woman qualifies for a loan, she becomes part of a lending group made up of other women who are part of Wezesha. The group ensures that each woman uses the funds as agreed and then the group pays their individual loans back on schedule. This group also meets with project workers on a regular basis to discuss the progress that each woman is making and how the group is functioning.
If a woman defaults without extenuating circumstances, she is no longer allowed to borrow from the project and the entire lending group will not be able to borrow again. It is the responsibility of the group to ensure that each member repays.
Before a woman is approved for a loan she is interviewed and talks with local staff about her plans for her business. Each woman then attends six business training sessions held over two weeks before they receive their loan. Borrowing is strictly done on a voluntary basis. The goal is to assist a woman to strengthen her livelihood, not to burden her with debt.
Yes. The initial loan is for an amount of $75-100. Successive loans are usually for higher amounts, although they could be for the same amount if the borrower prefers, and for longer terms. The maximum loan ceiling is also dependent on the specific economic context.
By giving a donation of $75 or more, you can equip a woman with a basic loan. Please donate today.