Fall Newsletter: October 25, 2010 (Issue 11)

Oct 25th, 2010 | By | Category: Newsletters

(Belated) Happy Thanksgiving!

Dale and I hope you had a great Thanksgiving. We are always thankful that we live in such a blessed country and that we are able to do what we can – even on such a small scale – in Africa. We are also very, very grateful for your support, without which we could not do it. We send you our heartfelt thanks!

Microcredit program

On our third trip to Tanzania in June, we saw firsthand how the microcredit program was going. We set it up in 2008, and it is one of the ventures we are most proud of. So far, it has exceeded all our expectations.

In January 2009, ten Okaseni ladies received loans of about $ 75 to $100 to start small businesses, mostly buying agricultural produce wholesale and selling it retail. The loan cycle was for a year. Most of the women paid back their loans completely with interest, and even those who didn’t still owe only a small portion.

Happy Mushi sits at the knitting machine that she is leasing from our microcredit program.

In June 2009, halfway through the first loan cycle, we had enough funds in repayments to start a second group. Five women were selected for this group. Their proposed businesses were more sophisticated than the first group, such as preparing and selling meals at local construction sites and making mbege (banana beer).

One of the ladies in the first group, Happiness Mushi, asked for a second loan to buy and sell cloth. Her long-term goal was to purchase a knitting machine so that she could make the sweaters that the village kids need for their school uniforms. Salma Daud, our wonderful microcredit program manager, suggested that we buy the machine outright and then lease it to Happiness with the option to buy. (Salma has been a godsend and we are so grateful to her!)

As you can imagine, Happiness lived up to her name when she got the news – she was ecstatic! This picture shows her with her knitting machine in the village office.

I love this picture. It’s an African Vermeer – a beautiful young woman in the natural light of an open window working on a domestic task. We were delighted to help make Happy’s dream come true so quickly.

We also arranged a class for the microcredit ladies, which was taught by Sylvia Corning, a BCIT School of Business instructor who accompanied us on this trip. She talked about setting business goals and objectives and how to evaluate them. This information was like a revelation to the ladies — it was the first time they had heard these ideas, and they found them very useful. Thanks, Sylvia!

Your donations at work

Your donations have helped run the microcredit program, which gives the ladies an income and hope for the future. The whole village ultimately benefits from this program. Many, many thanks!

Cheers, Sheena Ashdown

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