Building Partnerships in Sierra Leone

Posted on May 12, 2017

In 2016, RSWR funded 11 projects in Sierra Leone, benefiting 381 women starting small businesses. In the regions we serve, we partner with local groups of women who have been organizing to build community and save money. Here are the stories of three of the groups Jackie visited while in Sierra Leone:

Tewoh Community Development Organization

Beneficiaries and children, TCDO

Tewoh Community Development Organization works in two communities that were badly hit by the Ebola virus in 2014. Twenty-six people in the two communities died, and the village was quarantined for almost two years. The survivors were left with few resources and much work to do, with many women widowed and many children orphaned. The women in the group make bread and soap to sell in smaller nearby markets. Once a week the women rise at 3 AM to walk to a larger central market to sell their goods. While there, they also buy goods to resell in the local markets.

TCDO Benduqua, an Ebola survivor

Benduqua is a member of Tewoh Community Development Organization and an Ebola survivor. She lost her husband and six children to the disease, and then was quarantined alone in her house. With the loan from Right Sharing, she was able to start over. She now makes a living making and selling soap with the other women. Membership in the organization has been a way for her to heal emotionally and spiritually from the trauma and loss she experienced.





Gondama Community Development Foundation

GCDF Fishing boats

Gondama Community Development Foundation is located in Sulima, at the southwest tip of the country. The border with Liberia is to the South, the Atlantic Ocean is to the West, and the Moa River is to the North, cutting Sulima off from the rest of the country. Sulima suffered greatly during the Civil War; many of the inhabitants fled or were killed. Since the war’s end in 2002, people have begun returning; however, those who had businesses prior to the war had since lost everything. Because of the location along the Moa River, the traditional occupation of the village is fishmongering.



GCDF Women preparing fish for smoking

The foundation received its first RSWR grant in January 2016, and it has been put to great use in the village. The women purchase fish, which they then smoke and sell at markets. The women have more than doubled their income since receiving the grant. There has been such success that the foundation has been inundated with requests for help from women in nearby areas! The foundation recently received a second RSWR grant to expand its assistance to a group of women in a nearby village.





Fourabay Market Women Association

FMWA women in their collective storage area

Fourabay Market Women Association, which began in 2010, is located in Sierra Leone’s capital, Freetown. Collectively, the women buy rice, sugar, flour, and palm oil wholesale, and then resell the goods from individual stalls in the local market.

Prior to receiving a RSWR grant in 2016, the group was successfully lending money to women, but the loans were so small they weren’t able to be of much assistance. The RSWR grant has made a significant difference in the lives of the women, who are now able to support their families with their stalls.

Zina Kamara of FMWA selling rice and oil

Zina Kamara is a member of the Fourabay Market Women Association. She grew up selling rice in the market with her mother, and she now sells several different types of rice and also bottles of palm oil. Her husband is retired and has a small pension, so her work supports the family, including her four children. The RSWR grant has enabled her to make enough money to send all four of them to school.