Sierra Leone

RSWR-slider-headers-SL-pro
Sierra Leone is a West African country, comparable in size to the state of South Carolina, with a population of approximately 6 million. The population of Sierra Leone is young – nearly half of the country’s inhabitants are under the age of 15. In rural areas where RSWR focuses its projects, more than 62% fall into that age range.  After struggling through a 10 year civil war which ended in 2002, the country seemed to be recovering and beginning to grow their economy.  But the recent Ebola epidemic has squashed the development gains and the country is desperately in need of development assistance.

RSWR has been working in Sierra Leone since 1996. Recently, the Board has approved additional projects in Sierra Leone to try to help as much as possible in the country’s recovery from the Ebola devastation. 

The resilience of our Project Partners is heartening and inspiring. Learn more about individual projects and groups below, and please hold these brave women and their families in the Light.
.
.

Below are descriptions of ongoing and recently completed RSWR projects .  Be sure to click on the “Read More” blocks to see six month and one year reports from the projects as well as stories of beneficiaries.

 

Projects approved in Fall 2016

 

Kasiyatama Women’s Association
Kono District, Eastern Province, Sierra Leone

 

Beneficiaries: 32 poor rural women farmers

Project: Agriculture

This is a group of local women farmers who meet monthly and work together to try to increase the income of the farmers in the chiefdom. However, they continue to live in poverty because they lack farm equipment, seeds and planting materials to significantly increase their productivity. The group currently has a membership of 40 women in two villages. Most of the current members of the group are widows who lost their husbands to the Ebola virus. The association has participated in many community agricultural development programs sponsored by agencies such as IFAD, BRAC and the Sierra Leone Ministry of Agriculture.

Before receiving loans, the beneficiaries will first be trained in business management, revolving loan funds, micro credit, and food production, processing and marketing.

32 of the women will receive the initial loans. The others will receive loans from the repaid funds. Each woman will receive a loan of $119 to produce rice, cassava, corn, pepper, okra, and potatoes. She and her family will consume some of the produce and they will reserve some seeds for the next planting season. After six months, she will sell her excess produce and repay her loan at that point. She expects to have a net income of $1,305 for the six months, or $218 per month.

Members of KWA are encouraged to save 10% of their net income. In addition, many group members participate in a round-robin scheme in small groups of 5-7 women. Each quarter the women make a contribution (the amount is agreed upon among the members of each small group) to a group pot and one woman receives the total on a rotating basis.

 

Mokaly Women Development Project
Moyamba District, Southern Province, Sierra Leone

 

Beneficiaries: 30 extremely poor women farmers

Project: Seed rice production

The region where this project is located was seriously affected by the Ebola virus. Thousands of people died and the economy was ruined. This project is an attempt to recover economically. The village chief is very supportive of the women’s project and has promised to give them more land so they can grow more crops.

The women will be divided into 3 groups of 10 women each and will work collectively as a group. All of the women will grow rice. Each of the 30 women will borrow $173. Each woman will produce and sell nine bags of rice each month for an income of $146 per month after expenses of production. She will repay $15 per month for 12 months. This includes an interest rate of approximately 4% per annum. Her net monthly income will be approximately $131.

From this income, each woman will deposit $9 per month in the group project savings account for emergency needs.

 

Gondama Community Development Foundation
Fairo, Soro Gbema Cheifdom Southern Province, Sierra Leone

 

Beneficiaries: 36 poor fisher women

Project: Fish buying and selling

Gondama Community Development Foundation is located at Sulima along the Moa river near the ocean and the Liberian border. They are isolated from the rest of Sierra Leone by the Moa river. Fishing is the only viable business in the area. Sulima was the first village the rebels attacked when they entered Sierra Leone from Liberia in 1991. The village people ran from their homes to the bush. Some were able to escape but many men, women, and children died. After the war ended in 2002, people began to return to the villages. They took up their traditional occupation of fish mongering, but they had lost everything so their businesses never fully recovered. Many of the villagers worked as fishing laborers for middlemen who came from elsewhere and bought their fish for a small price to resell in other areas.

RSWR previously supported this group with a grant in January 2016. Since that time, life in the village has been much better. The women have husbands who fish or they buy fish from local fishermen and then smoke it and carry it to markets in Liberia for sale. The women have more than doubled their income and almost all of them were able to repay their loans. The success of the first project sparked interest in women from nearby areas and soon the organization had more requests for loans than they could handle. Therefore, they have applied for and received another RSWR grant to assist a new group of women in another village.

For this new project, each beneficiary will receive a loan of $109 to do fish mongering. They expect to net $36 per month after expenses, repayment and savings.

 

 

 

Peoples Action Against Hunger Sierra Leone
Bo, Southern Province, Sierra Leone

 

Beneficiaries: 36 poor rural women

Project: Agricultural buying and selling

PAAHSL was begun in 2004 after the civil war. It was started to help women farmers increase their production to help alleviate poverty. Today, the project has 300 members. All of the members have been trained and have been supplied with minimal working tools. 30 women were supported by an RSWR project which ended on June 30, 2016. This project was very successful in that it more than doubled the women’s income and most of the women were able to repay their loans (8 are still repaying). The repaid funds have been revolved to new women. However, with 300 members, the organization is asking for another grant to support more women.

This project will supply the beneficiaries with start-up funds to buy agricultural products from farmers within the community and resell them. They will also continue to work on their own farms and try to increase their productivity. The women will each receive a loan of $109. They expect a net income of $45 per month after expenses, repayment and savings.

 

 

Graced Team
Bonthe District, Southern Province, Sierra Leone

 

Beneficiaries: 40 poor young rural women

Project: Buying and selling fish and vegetables

Graced Team focuses on providing primary education and economic development projects for villages in poor, rural areas of Sierra Leone that are not reached by government programs or larger NGOs. They have completed one project in partnership with RSWR. They report that that project is going well and the women’s income has been greatly increased. The loans are being repaid and revolved slowly, but they are making progress. So far, they have given loans to 10 additional women beyond the initial 30 women.

This new project will focus on a different village in the Bonthe District. Bonthe is a poverty-stricken district where women are the bread winners in most families and they work very hard to provide food for their families and to send their children to school. They cannot afford health care and are unprepared financially for any emergencies. The initial beneficiaries will be between 20 and 40 years old. The women have already been formed into groups and elected leaders. They have heard of the earlier RSWR project and are excited to begin one in their own village.

This project will supply the beneficiaries with start-up funds to buy fish from the fishermen in their community for sale in the urban towns in the Bonthe district. In addition, they will grow and market vegetables in the urban towns. Graced Team will help by making arrangements with local wholesale fishermen and insuring the women have land to grow their vegetables. They will also help the women with the marketing of their products.

The women will each receive a loan of $113. They expect to net $77 per month after expenses, repayment and savings.

 

Projects approved in Spring 2016

 

 

Tewoh Community Development Organization
Bo, Sierra Leone

 

Beneficiaries: 30 poor women affected by Ebola

Projects: Bread baking, Soap making, Hair dressing

The target beneficiaries of this project are widows and survivors of Ebola from two communities that have been badly hit by the Ebola virus. 26 people from these two communities died between July and November 2014. There are also many children in the community, including many Ebola orphans for whom the women are providing foster care. Although there have been relief efforts targeting these communities in the form of emergency food and supplies, there has been no program to help the people restart their economic activities.

The goals of this project are to help the women begin income generating projects to support themselves and also to give them training in business skills and education about Ebola and other infectious disease such as HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis.

The three income-generating activities, bread baking, soap making and hair dressing were chosen because they have a good market in the local community. Each activity will be undertaken by 10 women and they will do the activity jointly. Each woman will borrow $123 and pool it with the others in her group to buy start-up supplies for their business. They will repay over 12 months with 20% interest. Once a group has fully repaid, the funds will be given to another group of 10 women to begin a business. The women expect a monthly income of $63 – $156 each depending on the business.

Read more about Tewoh Community Development Organization, including their Six Month and One Year Reports and Beneficiary Stories

Six month report – received January 2017

The project started in June 2016 with a two-day training on micro-credit and revolving loan funds, given by RSWR training consultant, Ahmed Muckson Sesay. The women have since also received two trainings by the TCDO leadership on group mentoring and infectious disease prevention. The funds were distributed to the 30 women in June 2016. Each woman received a loan of $123.

There was one change to the plans of the group. In August, a truck carrying 8 large bags of flour for the bread baking business, overturned and all the flour was destroyed. The women who were doing bread baking decided to undertake vegetable and corn growing too, in addition to the bread baking, since they did not have enough flour to make very much bread. The group also suspended loan repayment for the affected women for two months to give time for their vegetables to mature and be sold. Everything has turned out fine at this time. The women have decided to continue with the vegetable growing and sales, in addition to bread baking, since it has been a profitable business. They have been able to make up the repayments they missed and so all of the women are now on schedule to repay their loans in full and on time.

Some of the positive effects of the project so far include:

  • Greater unity within the community and less violence
  • The women have greater capacity in and understanding of business management
  • Women have greater individual savings
  • The women are now sending their children to school since they can now afford school fees, uniforms and books
  • The community has more local businesses
  • The local community revenues have increased as they women are paying taxes for their businesses

The loans are being repaid on time and the repaid funds are revolving to new women. So far, 13 new women have received loans from the repaid funds.

One year report – received June 2017

This project has been very successful. 30 women received the initial loans and all 30 repaid their loans in full. 38 new women have received loans from the repaid funds. All of the women now have monthly incomes two and three times what they once were. Other positive effects of the project include:

  • Group members are able to pay school fees and buy uniforms and books for the children.
  • Group members can now access health care and regularly attend health meetings.
  • Group members have established a regular saving habit in their households
  • Group members are able to negotiate favorable business opportunities in their villages
  • Discrimination against women and girls has been reduced in the community
  • Community unity and cooperation has been increased
  • More commodities are now available in the community
  • Local revenues have increased through tax collection on the women’s businesses

The bread flour accident mentioned in the six month report was the only major difficulty that the project encountered. The rainy season did present a few difficulties for the TCDO staff to carry out their field monitoring. Otherwise, the project has gone extremely well and many new members are joining TCDO.

 

Beneficiary stories:

Ebola struck Mamie Kamara’s home in July 2014. Her husband and three of her children died. She also became ill with the disease and was taken to the Kenema treatment center, leaving the last two of her children at home. She survived the disease but when she returned home she discovered that the two children left at home had also died, so she had no surviving family members. In addition, her neighbors and friends distanced themselves from her and wouldn’t interact with her. At this point, she met the director of TCDO who encouraged her and put her in contact with other Ebola survivors and widows in the TCDO group. When she heard about the TCDO application to RSWR, she thought it was a joke until the group was gathered together for the training. She has started a soap making business with her loan and says, “Five months since that time I have happiness and joy. I once again have friends and I can now buy nice clothes and eat good food and socialize with my community”.

 

Safiatu Kallon is an Ebola widow. She lost her husband to the disease and was left with two small children to raise on her own. Her husband’s family refused to help her or recognize the children. She said: “I was alone fending food, clothing and medication for them”. Then she joined TCDO and received a loan from the RSWR fund. She used the loan to begin two businesses – hair dressing and a cake and coffee shop. Now she makes a reliable income and can feed and clothe her children and send them to school. Now she is respected in the community.

 

Margaret Feika is also an Ebola widow. Because of the loan she received from the RSWR grant, she can take care of her children and educate them. She says: “Ebola took away my happiness by killing my husband, but RSWR has filled that gap by enhancing my capacity to do what my husband would have done for me and my children.”

 

 

 

Taduba Women’s Association
Bo District, Sierra Leone

 

Beneficiaries: 25 poor rural farmers

Project: Agriculture

This group consists of 30 women in 3 villages. Most are widows who lost their husbands during the Ebola epidemic. They meet monthly to discuss issues of agriculture and food production. The goal of the group is to increase the income of the farmers in the chiefdom. However, this is difficult because the farmers lack necessary inputs such as farm equipment, seeds, and planting materials. This project will give the farmers loans so that they can buy the inputs needed to produce a sustainable amount of crops.

The beneficiaries will each be given a loan of $200 to grow rice, cassava, corn, pepper, okra, and potatoes. They will repay their loans within six months with an interest rate of 2%. The beneficiaries will eat some of their produce and reserve enough seeds for the next planting season. In addition, they expect to make an average monthly income of $287 when their crops are sold after six months.

Read more about Taduba Women's Association, including their Six Month Report

Six month report – received May 2017

The group has done very well in their first six months of the project. They grew rice during the first quarter of the year and after they harvested it, they grew other vegetables. They are presently clearing more land so that they can grow more rice in the next planting season.

Most of the women are attending the group meetings as they are supposed to and the group has achieved recognition in the community because of the progress they have made so far. The women are now being included in decision making in the community and are being given responsible positions in the community.

They say: “So far the group is doing fine and we are strongly working together under the monitoring of the RSWR Field Representative.”

There have been applications from 8 new women to join the group and receive a loan. 4 of them will be incorporated into the group this quarter and the others will need to wait until next planting season.

 

Mayogba Rural Women Farmer’s Association
Moyamba District, Southern Province, Sierra Leone

 

Beneficiaries: 42 poor women farmers affected by Ebola

Project: Agriculture and Goat rearing

Mayogba is a small community where the farmers practice subsistence farming. Everyone has a small piece of land from 1-2 acres on which they grow various crops such as rice, cassava, groundnuts, vegetables, corn, potatoes, etc. Some people also keep small animals such as chickens and goats. For years the people lived in this way, growing just what they needed for food, with a small surplus which they sold to pay for school fees and other domestic needs.

However, with the ebola outbreak, this pattern was broken. The farmers were not able to work in their fields and lost most of their harvest. They were forced to eat the food they had stored up and to kill and eat their animals. Ebola stopped all activities for one year and there was much hunger in the village; people were not sick from Ebola, but hunger and lack of nutrition, especially the children. Now, even though the Ebola virus has been eradicated, they have little or no resources to grow new food and restart their lives.

This project will help the community restart their economic activities. 34 woman will receive loans to cultivate one crop of their choice: cassava, potatoes, groundnuts, maize, rice or vegetables. 8 women will work together to rear 20 goats. They will borrow $111 to $147 and repay in 6 months with 2% interest. Their net monthly income will range from approximately $56 to $98.

 

Gbenthas Women in Progress
Bombali District, Sierra Leone

 

Beneficiaries: 40 poor women farmers

Project: Seed rice production

The village where this project is located was destroyed by the rebel war, 1991-2002. Many people were killed; others were raped or forcibly conscripted. Almost all of the houses were looted and burned down. This project is an attempt to rebuilt the community, eradicate hunger and poverty, promote women’s rights and restore unity and harmony.

The women will work in groups of five women each. This is so that the women who are illiterate can be assisted by more educated women. All of the women will be growing seed rice to sell to bigger NGOs and other villages for planting. Each of the 40 women will borrow $146 and will produce and sell six bags of rice each month. They will repay $13 per month for 12 months which works out to an interest rate of 3% per annum. Each woman’s net monthly income will be $53 after loan repayment and expenses of production.

Read more about Gbenthas Women in Progress, including their Six Month Report and Beneficiary Stories

Six month report – received February 2017

The loans were disbursed in June 2016. The women are undertaking the project as well as can be expected given that they are very poor and illiterate. Some still do not understand about micro-credit and revolving loans and the importance of timely loan repayment, so the group is arranging more training for them from local government ministries. More training is also being arranged on rice production and sales so that they may increase their production. Most of the women are repaying their loans on schedule and so far, $2,615 of the $5,840 loaned has been repaid.

Beneficiary stories

Miss Abie Kanu had left school because she was an orphan and was unable to pay her school fees. Now that she has a business with a steady income, she has returned to school. She is still running her business and repaying her loan on time.

Mrs. Fatu Tarawellie is an Ebola survivor. When she first received her loan in June 2016, she was one of the poorest members of the group. But she worked hard and saved her money and now she has a large sum of money in the bank. She has even been able to receive a bank loan to expand her business. Now she is no longer one of the poorest in the community!

 

 

Masimoh Vulnerable Organization
Tonkolili District, Sierra Leone

 

Beneficiaries: 40 poor Ebola affected women farmers

Projects: Rice, Groundnuts, Corn

Members of this project are Ebola survivors or widows. They have been left destitute by the disease and are living in hunger and poverty. They are hard-working women but find it difficult to feed their families and cannot afford to educate all of their children because of their financial constraints. The aim of this project is to help them achieve economic stability and self reliance.

All 40 women will each produce three crops: rice, groundnuts and corn. They will each be loaned $140 to buy inputs for the three crops and will repay in 12 months with 12% interest. They expect an average income of $44 per month after production costs and loan repayment.

Read more about Masimoh Vulnerable Organization, including their Six Month Report and Beneficiary Stories

Six month report – received February 2017

The loans were disbursed in June 2016. The women are undertaking the project as well as can be expected since they are very poor and illiterate. Some still do not understand about micro-credit and revolving loans and the importance of timely loan repayment, so the group is arranging more training for them from local government ministries. Training has also been arranged on rice, groundnuts and corn production so that they may increase their production. In addition, the organization has given the women training on Ebola and infectious disease prevention. Most of the women are repaying their loans on schedule and so far, 40% of the total loan amount has been repaid.

Beneficiary Stories

Iye Turay is a widow with 6 daughters. Her husband died of Ebola. The children were not able to go to school because their mother couldn’t pay their school fees. After she started her business, Mrs. Turay now has more income and 3 of the children have returned to school.

Mrs. Mabinty Kamara’s husband is old and cannot provide for the family because of his age. Mrs. Kamara does everything for the family. The couple has 4 children who were malnourished because their mother couldn’t buy healthy food for them. Now that she has her business, Mrs. Kamara is growing healthy food and she can buy what she doesn’t grow. Now the family is doing much better.

 

 

Asorbeh Women Development Project
Tonkolili District, Sierra Leone

 

Beneficiaries: 30 poor rural women farmers

Projects: Rice, Groundnuts

This project is located in a fairly large village in Tonkolili District. There are over 60 women and girls in the village. Many of the teenage girls became pregnant during the long stay at home because of the Ebola crisis. Some are now continuing their schooling but others will need to work to support their babies. The project will start with 30 beneficiaries, but the others will be incorporated once the initial funds are repaid.

Before receiving loans, the members will first be trained “frequently, effectively, intensively and extensively” in groundnut and rice production and marketing. In addition, there will be frequent meetings, seminars, workshops, etc. about the project.

All of the women will grow and sell both rice and groundnuts. They will each be loaned $162 to buy inputs for the two crops and will repay in 12 months with 7% interest. They expect an average income of $68 per month after production costs and loan repayment.

Read more about Asorbeh Women Development Project, including their Six Month Report and Beneficiary Stories

Six month report – received February 2017

The loans were disbursed in June 2016. The women are undertaking the project as well as can be expected since they are very poor and illiterate. Some still do not understand about micro-credit and revolving loans and the importance of timely loan repayment, so the group is arranging more training for them from local government ministries. Training has also been arranged on rice and groundnuts production so that they may increase their yields. In addition, the organization has given the women training on Ebola and infectious disease prevention. Most of the women are repaying their loans.

Stories of Beneficiaries

Mrs. Kadi Sesay is an older woman and she is illiterate. She was widowed during the rebel war and raised 8 children on her own. The children could not attend higher education because she could not afford it. Both Mrs. Sesay and several of her adult children received loans from the RSWR funds. They are doing well with their businesses and hope to save enough to go to the university. Mrs. Sesay is very proud of her children.

Mrs. Mballu Turay is an Ebola survivor who lost her family during the outbreak. She herself was taken away for nearly a year for treatment. When she returned, she had lost everything. Now she has a new life with her business. She works very hard and even travels to Freetown to buy goods to resale in her business.

 

 

 

Projects approved in Fall 2015

 

Action for Women’s Empowerment
Pujehun District, Sierra Leone

 

IMG_20150705_105243

Processing cassava into garri

Beneficiaries:  30 poor rural women farmers

Project:  Garri processing and marketing

The main goal of Action for Women’s Empowerment is to eradicate poverty among women in the rural communities. Despite recent economic growth among men, women in rural communities continue to live in extreme poverty. This also affects their children, as their mothers cannot feed them or pay school fees to send them to school. They are trapped in a vicious cycle of extreme poverty. The Ebola virus has exacerbated this poverty as the women who rely on agriculture and small-scale businesses lost everything during the time of the virus. Most of the beneficiaries of this project are war widows, single parents, and out-of-school girls.

The proposed project will provide the women with capital assets to process cassava into a local food product called “garri”. Garri is the second (after rice) staple food in Sierra Leone – and the demand is growing. The 30 women will each borrow $150 for a total seed money of $4,500. They will pool their money to buy machinery and supplies to process cassava into garri, including a grater machine, presser, patching tray, etc. All machinery and other capital items purchased will be owned by the women beneficiaries during and after the funding period. The women will repay their loans in 12 monthly installments. The repaid funds will be loaned to a new set of women who will have the same opportunity to purchase their own equipment to process cassava into garri.

Read more about Action for Women's Empowerment, including their Six Month and One Year Reports and a Beneficiary Story

Six month report – received June 2016

garri230 women received loans of SLL.600,000 ($109) each in December 2015. The women also have received two trainings. One training was organized by RSWR before the loan disbursements. A second training to refresh the women’s understanding was offered by the NGO in the third month of the project.

Cassava processing equipment turned out to be too expensive for the women to buy. However, the NGO arranged for them to rent machinery from area businesses to process their cassava. There was also a shortage of cassava to be processed and so the women are trying to grow more cassava. There is a high demand for the garri product and so they are hopeful that the project will be very successful once they have enough cassava to process. The women have been repaying their loans and so far 7 new women have received loans from the repaid funds.

One Year Report – Received January 2017

Despite some difficulties and some lessons learned, this project has had a positive impact on the women beneficiaries and on the community.

One major problem the group encountered was that the women decided it was too expensive to buy garri processing machinery and so they hired cassava processors to process the cassava that they grew. However, because the women’s project added 30 new customers for the garrie processing machines, the two machines operating in the area could not keep up with the demand. This slowed the processing time and therefore cut into the women’s profits. AWE tried to solve this problem by contracting with cassava processors in other communities to come to their community. Finally, two additional machines were brought in and this solved the problem somewhat. However, if the NGO undertakes this project again in another community, they will definitely buy a garrie processing machine as part of the project assets.

In the end, the women’s businesses turned out to be successful. All of the women were making Le.230,000 ($30) per month by the end of the project, which is 5or 6 times what they used to make. All except two of the women repaid their loans in full. The two women who defaulted were Ebola survivors and they had residual health problems that made it difficult to work, so the NGO forgave their loans. 9 new women received loans from the repaid funds.

Another positive effect of this project is the increased knowledge and skills of the women in business and financial management, and the knowledge they gained about cassava processing — which is the second-most popular food in Sierra Leone. Also, the community benefitted by the increased economic capacity of the women and the local government authorities benefitted by increased business tax revenue.

Beneficiary story

Kula Rogers is a single mother of two children. Life for Kula has been very difficult since she lost her husband in 2010. As the bread winner of the family, Kula takes care of her 2 biological children plus three other children between the ages of 5 and 14 years. Two of these adopted children are Ebola orphans whose parents died during the course of Ebola. As a result, they are all living together and depending on Kula for their daily survival. Before the RSWR project, Kula used to work in the field for farmers who would give her some food in return. She also did sand mining and burned wood to make charcoal to make some extra money, both of which were bad for her health and the environment. She only made Le.30,000 ($4) per month. When AWE received the RSWR grant, Kula took a loan to begin a garrie processing business. Now she makes Le.230,000 ($30) per month and her income is gradually increasing. She has repaid her loan in full. Four of the five children are currently attending school and she hopes to send the last one to school in the coming academic year.

 

 

Disadvantaged Women Initiative Association
Kambia District, Sierra Leone

 

Beneficiaries:  40 Disadvantaged womenRice farming2-Maragiri

Project:  Rice production and sale

The village where this project is located as well as neighboring villages were seriously damaged by the rebel war, 1991-2002. Many people were killed or crippled physically and emotionally, and all of the houses were looted and burned. This project was formed to try to improve the destroyed areas and bring unity and peace to the people in the village.

For this project, the beneficiaries will be working in groups of 5 so that literate women with stronger skills can help the weaker, illiterate women.

The cultivation of rice will be the only activity of the project. Each woman will cultivate a portion of land allocated to her by the project and her work will be overseen by a 5-woman management committee. The total amount necessary for the production of the rice 6,076, will be divided among the 40 women so that each woman will be responsible for repaying $152. She will repay in 12 monthly installments. Each woman expects to be able to produce 6 bags of rice per month, which will bring her a monthly net income of $56 after expenses and repayment.

Read more about Disadvantaged Women's Iniative Association, including their Six Month Report and Stories of Beneficiaries

Six month report – received July 2016

This project was begun on December 18, 2015 when 40 women received loans of SLL.605,750 ($110) each. The women also received training on rice farming productions and sales. The training was arranged by the NGO and was facilitated by the Ministry of Social Welfare and the Ministry of Agriculture. In addition to their micro-credit activities, DWIA also organized a program to assist Ebola survivors and help them re-integrate into the community.

Because the women are very poor and illiterate, they have had some difficulties in implementing their businesses. The NGO has tried to help this by arranging more training for them. The women have begun repaying their loans and so far they have repaid SLL.9,830,000 ($1,787). The repaid funds have been used to give loans to new women.

Beneficiary Stories

Naballa Kamara was suffering from leprosy for years before the inception of DWIA. When she joined DWIA and received a loan, she was first trained on how to implement the loan wisely. She has done that and her business is doing well. She is paying her loan and interest regularly. Also, she was finally able to seek medical attention for the leprosy and has now recovered from it. She is very happy!

Sallay Koroma did not have any way to earn a living. Because of this, she was the poorest in the village. With DWIA’s extensive training in rice production and sales, she has acquired the skills necessary and is now capable of producing and selling rice to others. She has now bought a piece of land to carry out her small-scale farming and she is repaying her loan and interest regularly.

 

Women in Crisis Farmers Association
Western Rural District, Sierra Leone

 

House with children in front #2Beneficiaries:  33 women who are presently prostitutes or selling marijuana

Project:  Agriculture

This project is located in a community close to Freetown where there are numerous guest houses and social centers in which the sex trade flourishes. Because of the poverty in the community, many women and young girls have joined the sex trade or they sell marijuana to make a living. The coordinator of this project, Fatamata Mansaray, was a rural farmer who witnessed this situation and decided to help the young women find a better alternative to making a living. She called a meeting of all the women and girls in the village where they shared ideas. Out of this meeting, Women in Crisis Farmers Association, was formed. The aim of the Association is to alleviate the present deplorable social and economic situation of women and girls by promoting their solidarity, cooperation and friendship through a community self help project, growing and marketing food crops. The Association will provide agricultural inputs such as seeds and seedlings, tools, and fertilizers. They will also help the women with the marketing of their crops.

33 women who are presently prostitutes or selling marijuana will be the initial beneficiaries of the project and they will collectively cultivate 30 acres of groundnuts, 10 acres of vegetables, 10 acres of swamp rice, 5 acres of maize, 5 acres of potatoes, and 10 acres of cassava. Each woman will receive a loan ranging from $103 to $125 depending on the crops she cultivates. She will repay her loan in 4 monthly installments. She will also be expected to save $1.25 per month. The women expect a monthly net income of $106 to $137, depending on the type of crops they grow.

Read more about Women in Crisis Farmer's Association, including their Six Month and One Year Reports and Stories of Beneficiaries

Six month report – received July 2016

This project was begun in January 2016 when 25 women received loans of SLL.500,000 ($91) each plus seeds for planting. One change to the project was that the women growing rice decided to grow groundnuts and leafy vegetables instead. Presently, the women are only paying the monthly interest on their loans, which is SLL.8,000 ($1.50). They will repay the principal when they sell their harvest. Some of the difficulties that the women faced included heavy rains which disturbed the planting and growing of some of the crops. However, they hope this will end soon. Otherwise the group is doing well. They do wish for some more capacity building training so that they can learn to read and write and be able to write their reports better.

One year report – received March 2017

WCFA reports that this project has gone well. All of the 33 initial loan beneficiaries have repaid their loans and they have managed to add 2 new beneficiaries to the group. None of the women defaulted on their loans. The group reports that they are letting their land lay fallow for a few months after their recent groundnut harvest. In the meantime, they are engaging in buying and selling food stuff to make a living. They intend to repeat the loan cycle once the planting season resumes.

The group also reports that the project has created change for good in the community. The women are now more respected by their husbands and are being included in the decision making in the community. They are also now able to take good care of their children and send them to school.

Stories of Beneficiaries

My name is Baby Y. Kamara. My husband died during the Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone and left me with six children to raise. Since his death, I have not known a hopeful day. I had a small backyard gardening business, but it was not enough to support six children. When my women’s group succeeded in receiving RSWR funding, I was hopeful for the first time since my husband’s death. I have used my loan to expand my backyard gardening and also to start a cooked food selling business. Both businesses are doing well and I am now able to support my children. I am repaying my loan on time and I am also saving some money every month.

My name is Musu Koroma. I am thankful for the RSWR project. My husband abandoned me and the six children five years ago and married another woman. I have been struggling with the children, paying fees and taking care of their well-being. When I received the loan from RSWR, my situation changed and I am now growing a variety of leafy vegetables and selling palm oil. Now I am saving from the profits I am making and paying my loan monthly.

 

Tagrin Vegetable Women Farmers
Port Loko District, Sierra Leone

 

Beneficiaries:  39 poor farmersMWC-Onions

Project:  Vegetable gardening

This group was started by women and it is led and managed by women who are chosen by election. Right now the women of this community each have small plots of land and they grow vegetables on a subsistence basis – growing just enough to feed their families on small individual plots. The main aim of this project is to help the women transform from subsistence farmers to commercial farmers, so that they can grow enough food for themselves and have extra food to sell. The project will help the women procure increased acreage as well as quality seeds and seedlings, organic fertilizers, and tools. It will also train the women on organic gardening, improved production techniques, and marketing strategies to increase revenue.

The 39 women will grow 20 acres of fruits and vegetables: watermelons, tomatoes, eggplant, okra, cucumbers, onions, caw peas, peppers, ukase, lettuce, carrots, and potatoes. Each woman will borrow $100 to $150 depending on the amount of land she cultivates and the crops she grows. She will repay her loan in 4 monthly installments. Monthly incomes after repayment will range from $42 to $54 depending on the amount of land cultivated and the crops grown.

Read the Six Month Report of Targrin Vegetable Women Association

Six month report – received March 2017

The group started with 35 women who each received a loan of le.800,000 ($107). 5 new women have received loans from the repaid funds. 23 of the women are between the ages of 25 and 30. 17 of the women are older than 35. All except two of the women have repaid their loans in full. The group first grew rice and then, after the rice harvest, they grew vegetables – corn, okra, bitter ball, and peppers. The women also buy and sell foodstuff.

The successes of this project include:

  • 60% of the community has now been trained on agriculture and small scale business.
  • Women are involved in decision making in their community
  • Women now hold leadership positions in the community
  • Women now own land to grow crops

 

Fourabay Market Women Association
Freetown, Sierra Leone

 

MarketBeneficiaries:  43 poor women

Project:  Buying and selling of foodstuff

This group was founded in 2010 with the aim of working together to make a living buying and selling foodstuff. In the first year, they raised money for their group through registrations and monthly dues and were able to support 3 women with small loans. Each month, when the monthly repayments were made, they supported one more person with a loan until after 3 years, all 40 women had received a loan. Today, the average loan amount per member is $63. However, this amount is not sufficient to build a sustainable business. The minimum necessary loan amount for a petty trader should be $125. The group has tried to secure loans for their members from financial institutions, but the interest rates were very high and the application process was formidable. Therefore, they turned to RSWR.

For this project, each woman w borrow $125 to $141 depending on which commodities she plans to buy and sell. The commodities are: rice, onions, palm oil, vegetable oil, salt, fish and pepper. She will repay the loan in six monthly installments. Monthly income after expenses and loan repayment will range from $41 to $50.

Read more about Fourabay Market Women Association, including their Six Month and One Year Reports and a Beneficiary Story

Six month report – received July 2016

This project was begun in January 2016 when 25 women received loans of SLL.800,000 ($145) Less women received the initial loans than anticipated because inflation caused by the Ebola crisis made each woman require more for their business. The businesses were also changed. They decided to concentrate on selling rice, oil, sugar and “Mega drink”. The group rents a store where they keep the stuff they are selling. They have also established a relationship with a company called Commodities Trading Center from which they buy their supplies for resale at a good price. So far, there have been no real difficulties besides heavy rains which have slowed business. But this is to be expected. The women are only repaying SLL.25,000 ($5) per month, so it will take them 3 years to totally repay their loans. They are charged an interest rate of 5% per annum. So far, 5 new women have received loans from the repaid funds.

One year report – received March 2017

The group started with 35 women who each received a loan of le.700,000 ($93). 5 new women have received loans from the repaid funds. All of the women have repaid their loans in full. The group buys and sells foodstuff such as rice, sugar, vegetable oil, palm oil, canned tomatoes, fish flour, mineral drinks, etc. The women each save Le.5,000 (67¢) per month. They have recently been granted a larger supply of stock to sell from their wholesaler so they can expand their businesses.

The successes of this project include:

• Women are respected by their husbands and families because they bring in income • Women now hold leadership positions in the community • The women are able to make food available in the community, even during a crisis

Beneficiary story

My name is Salamatu Bangura. I am married with 5 children. My husband was a driver, working for a commercial vehicle owner. One day he was involved in a road accident where 4 people were injured. Since that time our shortcomings began. I used to sell fruits and helped with the household choices. But after my husband was involved in this ordeal, things changed and there were so many problems at home. I am thankful for the RSWR project that has raised my business. Now I can pay my children’s school fees and also save some money for the children’s well being. Part of my savings I used to buy palm oil in the provinces which I sell alongside my fruits.

 

 

Foundation for Women Welfare and Development
Port Loko District, Sierra Leone

 

Beneficiaries:  45 Ebola affected widows

Projects:  Agriculture and goat rearing

This project will help widows who have lost their spouses due to the Ebola virus. The community where this group is located was badly hit by the Ebola virus. As a result, it was locked down and isolated by the government and movement by the people was restricted. This caused the farmers to lose about 70% of their agricultural products. They were forced to sell their animals (goats, sheep, chickens) to make money to buy basic foodstuff, and so now there is also a scarcity of animals in the community. Ebola relief efforts on the part of the Sierra Leone government and outside groups are mainly concentrated in the cities and do not reach the remote villages.

This project will provide inputs for 45 Ebola affected widows to engage in agriculture or goat rearing. Each woman will choose one crop to grow from the following: cassava, potatoes, groundnuts or vegetables. Or they can choose to raise goats. The women will be loaned $90 to $150 depending on which activity they choose to take up. They will repay their loans in 6 monthly installments. They hope to make $78 to $116 per month after expenses and loan repayment.

Read more about Foundation for Women Welfare and Development including their Six Month and One Year reports and Stories of Beneficiaries

Six month report

45 women received loans from the RSWR grant. The work is going as planned and crops are growing well. The women are attending meetings regularly and are making their repayments on time. All 45 women repaid their loans on schedule. The money was loaned out again to the same 45 women so that they could expand and upgrade their farms. The interest was loaned to new women.

The only problem is that all the land in their community has been sold to an outside entity, Genesis Farms Limited, by the local chief. The women now have to travel 6 to 7 miles to get to the area where they can do their own farming.

One year report – received February 2017

Positive impacts of this project include:

  • There is a growing friendship, cooperation and mutual understanding among the group members. Women have enough seeds and planting implements to run their farms successfully.
  • There are now animals available in the community again. Before this project there were no animals. Now there are 40 goats from the 20 purchased for this project.
  • The group is saving together. They cannot get to a bank because they are far away and charge too high of interest. But now they have their own savings in the group.
  • The women now have money to pay school fees, access health care and feed their families. Everyone’s income has increased 2 – 4 times what it was before the project.
  • 10 new members were added to the group and given loans from the repaid funds. The 45 initial beneficiaries each received second and third loans to upgrade and expand their farms.

This project has been very successful and whatever small problems that were encountered were discussed and solved by the women during their group meetings. The one major problem that remains is that the land in the local village was sold to The Genesis Farm by the local governing authorities. The group hopes that the increased economic strength of the women will translate into political strength so that they can successfully advocate for the return of the land to the people.

Stories of Beneficiaries:

Fatu Kanu is an Ebola widow. Her husband died of Ebola when she was pregnant with their first child. She was paralyzed by Ebola but has now recovered. She used her loan to restart her farming activities that she had abandoned during the Ebola epidemic. She also buys and sell local foodstuff in the village and nearby villages.

 

 

 

 

Ya Yabu Conteh is a single parent of one daughter, shown here with her mother. Yabu has used her loan to restart her vegetable farming activities that were halted during the Ebola epidemic. Now she makes a good income from her farm and she is able to again send her daughter to Junior High School. Her daughter had been out of school since the Ebola epidemic because her mother was unable to pay the school fees.

 

Projects approved in Spring 2015

.

Graced Team
Bonthe District, Southern Province, Sierra Leone

 

Making garri from cassava

Beneficiaries:  30 poor rural women farmers aged 25-40

Project:  Vegetables, Groundnuts, Cassava

Graced Team is working in Mokenewa Village in Southern Sierra Leone. In the past two years, they have focused on bringing primary education to the village. With the help of World Vision, they were able to build a school. But it is up to the women of the community to pay school fees to support a teacher and to buy books and supplies for their children to go to school. Additionally, the members of the community have no money to access health care for themselves and their children. In order to meet these expenses, the women want to start some income-generating activities.

Two members of the group visited a nearby trade fair to find out what agricultural products were selling well. After this visit, the women decided to undertake the growing of vegetables, groundnuts and cassava since these crops had high sales at the trade fair. The women expect short-term income from growing vegetables and groundnuts which mature in 3-6 months and long-term income from cassava which takes a year to mature.  They will divide themselves into 5 groups of six and rotate the labor responsibilities of growing these crops. They also discussed marketing strategies and decided to sell their produce at the trade fairs in nearby urban areas, to advertise on the radio, to start a mini market in their own community, and to negotiate with boat owners to transport produce to other markets. There are currently 50 members of this project, but 30 will take the initial loans and the 20 others will get loans from the repaid funds. Graced Team will lease 6 acres of land for the women to undertake this project. Each woman will borrow approximately $159 towards the cost of seeds and inputs to grow the crops. They will repay their loans in 12 monthly payments after a grace period of 3 months. Interest will be 2% per month. The women expect to net $45-$63 per month after expenses and loan repayment.

Read more about Graced Team including their Six Month and One Year reports and pictures of beneficiaries

 

Children of the village

Six month report – received February 2016

42 women received a loan of SLL.500,000 ($124). This was a change from the original plans with more women receiving a slightly lesser amount. The reason for the change was that the membership in the organization had grown to 82 women and it was hard to decide who would get loans and who would wait for the repayments. It was decided that women with children in school would get the first loans and the others would wait and receive loans from the repaid funds. Some of the husbands of the women who did not receive the first loans were upset about this but the chairlady told them that it was a decision of the group and was none of their business and the Paramount chief of the village supported her decision.

One difficulty was that the funds were not received at the correct planting season for cassava and groundnuts. Therefore, most of the women used their loans for vegetable farming. The women who were already farming cassava and groundnuts continued with their plots and will save the seeds for replanting next season. Another difficulty was that processing the cassava into the value-added products of fufu and gari was time-consuming and physically difficult for the women. Graced Team was able to help with this by buying a gas grater. They charge the women a minimal fee to use it to cover the cost of the gas.

To help with marketing, Graced Team has purchased a plot of land where they intend to establish a farmer’s market. They hope to attract buyers and sellers from adjacent areas to come to the village to participate in the market on a bi-weekly basis. This way, their members will not have to go to the big towns to buy basic products or to sell their products. In addition, Graced Team plans to conduct a training for the women soon on how to set fair prices for their products as this is something the women didn’t know how to do.

The NGO had a lot of trouble setting up a bank account in Freetown and also had difficulties with a dishonest financial administrator who embezzled about $600 of the grant. However, those difficulties have now been taken care of. A new bank account has been set up in a rural bank near the village, with the chairlady and secretary of the women’s group as co-signers, and a new Field Worker has been hired to assist the women.

Because of all the delays, the women have only just begun to repay their loans. The loaning period has been extended to 18 months because of the timing of the planting season. So far, the women have repaid SLL.1,490,000 ($370) out of the SLL.21,000,000 ($5,215) loaned. The repaid funds will be saved in the bank account until there is enough to give out ten more loans, and then the funds will be loaned out again.

Some results of the project are already being seen. The head teacher of the school has told Graced Team that several children who previously came to school dirty and without shoes now have shoes and clean uniforms.

One Year Report

Making loan repayments

This project has had some difficulties as outlined in the six month report, but overall, the women’s lives have been changed for the better and as the project grows and the women mature in their businesses, their lives are continuing to improve.

One of the positive impacts of the project is that having access to money has greatly increased the women’s social standing in their homes and in the village. Husbands now respect their wives’ opinions on financial matters and consult them when making financial decisions. The project has also caused the women to realize their own potential and has awakened their dormant skills and abilities.

Some of the problems the women encountered were difficulties with transporting their goods to market and the attitude of some husbands who expected their wives to do everything in the home as well as run a business.

The repayment period was extended to 18 months because the funds were not received at a good time for planting. Thus, none of the women have finished repaying their loans yet. However, the women have been repaying faithfully and no one has defaulted. The women have been repaying Le.35,500 per month since January 2016, 3 months after the funds were received and distributed. As of June 2016, they had repaid a total of Le.8,500,000 out of the Le.21,000,000 loaned.

Some of the women had difficulty repaying their loans. This was because they chose to invest their loan funds solely in cassava production which takes a year before profits are realized. They did not have any income from the cassava when the 3 month grace period for loan repayment was up. They ended up having to gather wild palm nuts and extract oil from them to sell in order to make their loan repayments. Another group of women pooled their money and bought a cassava plantation that was ready for harvest. They were able to process and sell the cassava and then they split the profits. However, the profit was not as much as they had hoped because processing cassava is very hard work and they had to pay men to do it for them which greatly reduced their profits. The women have decided that cassava is not a profitable business for them.

Graced Team helped the women who have had difficulties repaying by extending the repayment period. They have also been distributing groundnut seed free to every woman so that she may use this to augment her income. In addition, Graced Team is organizing a local market to open in April 2017 so that the women will no longer have to transport their goods long distances to sell.

One difficulty that the project has caused in the community is that the women are waking up to the fact that they have been working as virtual slaves to their husbands and other men all of these years. Now that they are making an income of their own, this has given them power and it has caused some conflicts. Some of the men feel that the women have too much power. The president of Graced Team has held community meetings where he has tried to educate the men on the importance of women owning property, making their own income, and being treated as equals to men.

Pictures of the women and their village life

 

A typical house in the village

Making garri from cassava

Making garri

Making garri

Extracting palm oil — this is the business the women who planted cassava had to take up in order to repay their loans.

Preparing food

Washing clothes

 

African Women’s Development Programme
Tonkolili District, SIERRA LEONE

Beneficiaries:  28 poor rural women farmersawdp-beneficiaries

Project:  Integrated Agriculture

AWDP was started in August 2006 by poor rural female farmers to encourage self reliance and sustainable development in the community. The organization works with women irrespective of tribe, race, religion, region and nationality.

For this project, the 28 initial beneficiaries would first attend a workshop on revolving loan funds and mass food production, and marketing. Then each would receive a loan of approximately $166 to purchase seeds and other inputs to grow rice, corn, potatoes, cassava, yams and ginger.

Read more about African Women’s Development Programme, including their Six Month and One Year Reports

The women expect to sell their crops in 6 months for a total income of $1,271 or $212 per month. They will repay their loan in six monthly installments at 1% interest per month. Every month, 4 additional women will receive loans from the repaid funds. The beneficiaries will eat some of the produce and reserve enough seeds for the next planting season. The rest they will sell and they expect to make about $130 per month.

Six month report – received March 2016

This project has had a few difficulties, but they are being overcome by the intervention of the NGO. Before loans were disbursed, the women first received training in microcredit, business management and project management from the RSWR trainer, Muckson Sesay.

Some of the difficulties encountered by the women were:

  • They had a disappointing harvest because of climate changes that affected their farming.
  • They did not have enough funds to hire help to cultivate and harvest their expanded farms.
  • They did not have storage facilities or a drying floor to adequately take care of their harvest

AWDP assisted the women to overcome their problems by hiring a specialist to give a talk on climate change and how to adjust the farming calendar to take climate into account. The NGO is also trying to raise funds locally to build a store and drying facilities for the use of their beneficiaries. Lastly, they advised the women to “properly make use of what they had” in carrying out their farming operations.

Difficulties faced by the NGO included late repayments and women coming late to meetings. The group collectively decided that they would levy a fine of SLL.5,000 ($1.25) for late repayments and SLL.2,000 (50¢) for late-comers to meetings. More difficult to solve was the problem of not having enough funds to give loans to all of the women who wanted them. The NGO will begin “robust fundraising activities” to try to get more funds so they can give more loans.

To date, all of the initial beneficiaries have repaid their loans in full and the repaid funds have been loaned to new women.

One year report – received August 2016

59 beneficiaries have received loans from the RSWR grant and 55 women have repaid the loans in full. 4 women have had difficulties repaying because they experienced poor harvests. However, they are still in the process of repaying. Some of the positive effects of the project include:

• The beneficiaries were able to expand and enhance their agricultural activities • The beneficiaries living standard has been greatly increased. Some women experienced an increase in monthly income of 10 times what they made before they received the loan. All of the women are making at least 5 times what they were originally making. • The women’s home situation is much happier and more peaceful • All the children are attending school

One negative effect of the project was that some “lazy beneficiaries” did not think they should have to repay the loans and were angry when they were forced to.

Peoples Action Against Hunger Sierra Leone
Bo, Sierra Leone

PAAHSLFieldBeneficiaries: 30 poor rural women

Project: Agricultural buying and resale

PAAHSL was begun in 2004 after the civil war. It was started to help women farmers increase their production to help alleviate poverty. Today, the project has 215 members. All of the members have been trained and have been supplied with minimal working tools. However, they are still doing subsistence farming and don’t make any extra income for emergency needs.

This project will supply the beneficiaries with start-up funds to buy agricultural products from farmers within the community and resell them. They will also continue to work on their own farms and try to increase their productivity. The women will each receive a loan of approximately $143. They will repay the loan over 12 months with 2% interest per month. They expect to make $36 per month after expenses and repayment.

Read more about Peoples Action Against Hunger Sierra Leone including their Six Month and One Year Reports

Six month report – received December 2015

PAAHSL has imparted several trainings to their members. First, all the women who received the initial loans were trained by the RSWR training contractor, Ahmed Muckson Sesay, in basic micro-credit and self help group concepts and business management. Then the NGO presented additional training on financial management and investment.

Some of the difficulties the women have faced in starting their businesses have been family members asking for help and animals eating their crops. The NGO has tried to assist them by meeting with them frequently to monitor their progress and continued sensitization on the concepts of good business practices.

The NGO has experienced difficulties of high maintenance costs on their field bikes, poor internet access, and constant requests from many, many needy women for loans when they have limited resources. To remedy the internet problem, they plan to purchase a new modem. The other problems are harder and they hope to get more grants so that they can serve more women in the future.

The women have begun to repay their loans and are doing well at it. There are 8 women who are behind in their payments, but all the rest are repaying on schedule. They hope that the 8 women will be caught up soon. The repaid money has been used to give loans to new women in the group.

One year report – received June 2016

The positive effects of this project on the women beneficiaries include:

• The women’s monthly income has been greatly increased. They are now making 3-5 times what they were previously making. • 22 of the 30 initial beneficiaries have repaid their loans in full • The women’s standard of living has been upgraded • The women received capacity building training which increased their knowledge of agriculture, how to run a successful business, and how to work together to achieve success.

The positive effects of this project on the community where it was located include:

• There is a growing market in the community so the local people don’t have to travel to far communities in order to buy things they need. • The local government has received increased revenue from taxes and market dues • Attendance at the local school has increased as it is a requirement that the women beneficiaries send their children to school • Violence against women in the community has decreased

Some of the challenges and difficulties of the project include:

Some of the women were unable to repay their loans because they had a bad harvest due to bush animals, insects, and early rains. The Project Coordinator spoke with these women and encouraged them to save seeds from this harvest and replant and then repay from a future harvest. They have done this and hope to be able to repay at a later date.

The NGO experienced problems with access to the internet, high costs for maintenance of their field bikes, and many requests for loans from needy women, which they could not fulfill. To remedy the internet problem, they have purchased a modem.

 

Sayenoh Farmers Development Association
Port Loko District, SIERRA LEONE

Beneficiaries: 27 women farmersThatch homes

Project: Integrated Agriculture

SFDA was founded in January 2007 by poor rural women farmers who were returning home after the rebel war. Their goal is self-reliance and sustainable development. The organization is owned and operated by women.

For this project, the 27 initial beneficiaries would first attend a workshop on revolving loan funds and mass food production, and marketing. Then each would receive a loan of approximately $170 to purchase seeds and other inputs to grow rice, potatoes, cassava, corn, beni (sesame), and okra.

 

Read more about Sayenoh Farmers Development Association

The women expect to sell their crops in 6 months for a total income of $1,457 or $244 per month. They will repay their loan in six monthly installments at 1% interest per month. Every month, 4 additional women will receive loans from the repaid funds. The beneficiaries will eat some of the produce and reserve enough seeds for the next planting season. The rest they sell and they expect to make approximately $140 per month.

 

Njabawo Destitute Women Development Project
Waterloo Village, Southern Province, Sierra Leone

Grain sales at marketBeneficiaries: 48 poor rural women

Project: Sale of fish, grain, palm oil, fruit, vegetables, or cooked foods
– each woman will choose 2 to sell

NDWDP was begun in 1994 before the rebel war by 30 women. During the war, 18 of the women were killed in a cross-fire that happened in the village and 8 of the women were captured by the rebels and taken to be their wives. The remaining women escaped to safety, but were forced to resort to prostitution and begging in order to survive. After the war, they returned to their village and restarted the project with new recruits. They registered it in 2006.

This group was a partner of RSWR in 2008-09 and they report that they have been able to add 4 new villages to their working area and are continuing to revolve the RSWR grant money. This new project will be started in another new village.

Read more about Njabawo Destitute Women Development Project including their Six Month and One Year Reports and Stories of Beneficiaries

Most of the beneficiaries are illiterate and so they will be working in 6 groups of 8 so that there will be a literate person in each group. Each woman will be given a loan of approximately $100 to start two of the following businesses: sale of fish, grain, palm oil, fruit, vegetables, or cooked foods. She will repay in 12 monthly installments with 6% interest. Each woman is expected to make a total profit of approximately $44 every month from her two businesses. She will make a repayment of $9 each month and have a net monthly income of $35.

Six month report – received February 2016

This project was begun on July 28, 2015. The women were first given training on how to do petty trading activities. Then the loans were disbursed. The project was changed a bit because the group incorporated additional farming activities and they joined the Ebola Task Force.

The women are illiterate and so it is hard for them to understand the concept of microcredit. The NGO feels that they do not have enough staff and also they find it difficult to reach the women’s fields because of inaccessible roads. The NGO is trying to deal with these difficulties by doing more training of their members and adding additional staff members.

Despite the difficulties, the women have begun repaying their loans. So far SLL.5,100,000 ($1,266) has been repaid out of SLL.20,095,000 ($4,990) that was loaned out. The repaid funds have been used to give loans to new women.

The NGO feels overwhelmed and discouraged because they have been trying very hard to “make a spread of development” in the past few years, but the “Ebola virus disease has broken the camel’s back.” They feel they need more support to achieve sustainability.

 

One year report – received June 2016

This project has encountered several difficulties. The main problem is that the majority of the women have not repaid their loans. The reasons for this are because the women are illiterate, they don’t understand the idea of micro-credit, despite training, and also the economy has been very bad because of Ebola. Of the 48 women who received loans, only 17 have repaid in full. 8 women are still in the process of repaying, and 23 have defaulted. The lack of repayment has caused some problems because the organization had hoped to expand to other villages and this has not been possible. Also, women who are waiting for loans must wait a long time to receive them.

On a positive note, the monthly income of the women has gone up dramatically. Most of the women are now making 4-5 times the income they made before receiving the loan. Also, the project has helped to increase awareness in the community of women’s rights.

 

Beneficiary Stories:

In 2009, Abibatu Conteh lost her husband as a result of a snake bite. She was left a widow with 6 children. It was very difficult for her to make ends meet and she could not afford to send her children to school. She was a recipient of a loan from the RSWR funds and now she grows a big plot of vegetables. She gets a “good harvest and good gains”. Now her children are back in school and she is “the happiest woman in Waterloo Village.”

Ema Kamara cannot have children and has no husband. In the Sierra Leone culture, such people are considered to be evil or witches. Because of this Ema lived in isolation and no one cared about her. With the coming of this project to the village, Ema got training on micro-credit and now runs a successful business. She is head of the project’s disciplinary committee and she recently married the village headman.

Marie Koroma has 8 children and has lived in deep poverty all of her life. She was unable to adequately feed, clothe, and take care of other necessities for her children. With NDWDP, she received training on micro-credit and learned how to run a business. Marie has worked very hard and her business has grown. She travels to other towns and villages to do her business. Now she is repaying her loan and she can take care of her children’s needs.

 

Gondama Community Development Foundation
Fairo, Southern Province, Sierra Leone

Beneficiaries: 36 poor fisher women

Project: Fish mongering

Beneficiaries waiting for a fishing boat to come in.

GCDF was begun in 2007. Their focus is women’s issues including human rights issues, livelihood skills, environmental health and sanitation, and HIV/AIDS prevention programs. They are focused on ensuring equal opportunity and privileges for all, especially women and girls who are disempowered by poverty, ignorance, disbelief, fear and mistrust due to longstanding and persistent discrimination.

The community where this project is located is situated along the Mao river. For the past several years, the women of this community have been fishing laborers for other women who come from distant areas to buy large quantities of fish which they take back to their own communities. The local women are hoping to go into the fish mongering business themselves rather than just being the labor for others.

Read more about Gondama Community Development Foundation -- including their Six Month and One Year Reports.

The 80 women who are part of this project will organize themselves into two groups of 40 members each. 18 women from each group will be the initial beneficiaries of the first loans. The others will receive loans from the repaid funds. Each beneficiary will receive a loan of approximately $119 to be repaid in 10 months with 2% interest per month. They hope to net $44 per month after expenses and loan repayment.

Six month report – received December 2015

The loans were disbursed in July 2015. Before loan disbursement, the women received two

A beneficiary ready to take her products to a market fair.

A beneficiary ready to take her products to a market fair.

trainings. The first training was conducted by Ahmed Muckson Sesay the RSWR Trainer. This training was for the initial beneficiaries and the organization as a whole. They were introduced to the history of micro-credit, the pillars of a successful self help group, how to run a successful micro-enterprise and basic business management. Later, both the initial beneficiaries and future beneficiaries received further training from the GCDF leadership on business management, accounting and record keeping.

One of the difficulties that the women have faced has been a high demand for fish compared to the supply rate. The NGO has tried to encourage fishermen from other communities to come and sell their fish in the Gondama Community and has also encouraged the women to travel to other communities to buy fish for resale. They also spoke to the Pujehan District Council asking them to provide fishing boats and gear on loan since there are now women with capital to invest in the fish business.

Some of the difficulties the NGO has experienced have been poor roads, poor internet, and lack of a camera to take pictures of the project. They have spoken with the District Council about improving the roads and hope to buy a modem to improve their internet service. They have found a camera.

The women have begun to repay their loans and the repaid amounts have been given as loans to new beneficiaries. Since there are not enough fishermen to catch the fish for all the women who want to buy it, the beneficiaries are working towards being able to buy their own boats and fish for themselves.

Preparing fish for smoking.

Preparing fish for smoking.

This beneficiary is now respected by her husband and children.

This beneficiary is now respected by her husband and children.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This young woman used to depend on others but now she earns her own money and takes care of herself.

This young woman used to depend on others but now she earns her own money and takes care of herself.

 

 

One year report – received June 2016

The positive effects of this project on the target beneficiaries include:

• The women’s monthly income has been greatly increased – some women are making 7 times what they were previously making. • 27 of the original 36 women have repaid their loans in full and 8 new women have been given loans from the repaid funds • The women received capacity–building training • The opportunity for the women to manage their own businesses has increased their self reliance and decreased their dependency on others

The positive effects of this project on the community where this group is located include:

• Increased market of fish and other aquatic products • Women are more involved in community decision making • The community has become more attractive to business people and fishermen • Increased tax revenue for local government • Gender based violence has decreased in the community

Difficulties and challenges of the project:

Some of the women were in serious financial debt when they received their loans, unknown to the project coordinator, and thus they have been repaying their old debt rather than repaying the loan. The project coordinator has had discussions with them and has agreed that they can continue to repay their old debt as long as they maintain their businesses and repay the loan when they are able to do so.

Other difficulties include poor roads and poor internet service. The NGO has discussed the poor road conditions with the local government and has purchased a mobile modem to improve their internet service.

 

Makolo Women Development Organization
Bombali District, Northern Province, Sierra Leone

BenMWDOCountryClotheficiaries:  40 poor rural women

Project:  Country cloth suits

This project was begun in 2011 to try to uplift the economic conditions of the community. The community was destroyed by the civil war of 1991-2002 and after 10 years had still not recovered. The people were still in desperate economic conditions. They decided to undertake the production of country cloth because it is worn on all important ceremonial occasions and some is even exported.

The 40 beneficiaries will first receive 2 months of training and then will each borrow approximately $145 to begin production of country cloth suits. Loans will be repaid in 12 months with 4% interest. After loan repayment and expenses, the women hope to net at least $57 per month.

Read more about Makolo Women Development Organization including their Six Month and One Year Reports and Stories of Beneficiaries

Six month report – received February 2016

This project was begun on July 15, 2015. Before receiving loans, the women were first trained on how to weave country cloth and produce the traditional suits. The project has had many difficulties, mainly because of the Ebola virus. 2 members of the group died from Ebola and 4 others are Ebola survivors. The leadership of the NGO joined the Ebola Task Force to help fight the disease. Many of the women have found it difficult to keep up with the work and ten members of the group have not paid anything towards their loan. However, others have been making the cloth successfully and are repaying their loans. SLL.5,630,000 ($1,395) out of SLL.24,230,000 ($6,000) has been repaid so far. The repaid funds have been used to give loans to new women.

 

One year report – received June 2016

This project has encountered several difficulties. The main problem is that the majority of the women have not repaid their loans. The reasons for this are because the women are illiterate, they don’t understand the idea of micro-credit, despite training, and also the economy has been very bad because of Ebola. Of the 40 women who received loans, only 14 have repaid in full. 11 women are still in the process of repaying, and 15 have defaulted. The lack of repayment has caused some problems in the community because women who were supposed to get loans from the repaid funds have not been able to get them and they are angry with the organization. Also, the organization had hoped to expand to other villages and this has not been possible.

On a positive note, the monthly income of the women has gone up dramatically, even for the women who are not repaying their loans. Most of the women are now making 5 times the income they made before receiving the loan. Also, the women are receiving more respect, and violence against women has been greatly reduced.

 

Stories of Beneficiaries:

Mariatu Koroma is an Ebola survivor. She was a petty trader, but she was not able to make enough to support her family. She took the country cloth weaving training and became very good at it. Now she makes and sells 16-26 suits every month and makes a good profit. She sends all 4 of her children to private schools.

Mbalu Gbla is a widow whose husband died from the Ebola virus. She was one of the poorest in the village with 6 children to raise. She cut and sold firewood and fished to provide food for her children. But she was not able to make enough money to send them to school or to get them medical help if they became ill. Gbla worked very hard to learn how to weave the cloth and became very good at it. Now she travels to neighboring villages to peddle her cloth and she is making a good income. In the short time since she received her loan, she has made enough money to be able to send her two youngest children to school.

Fatu Sesay is a widow with 6 children. Her children have never gone to school. She lost her husband during the rebel war and was barely able to feed her children after that with subsistence farming. With the RSWR funds, she received a loan and was trained in making country cloth. She travels to nearby towns and villages selling her clothes and has made a good profit. She has helped her 4 older children also go into this business and so the whole family has improved their standard of living.

Aminata Kamara is an orphan and a school drop-out. She lost her father during the rebel war at a young age, and then her mother died of Ebola. She joined MWDO and received a loan from the RSWR funds. She is hard working and so has made a success of her business. She saved some of her money to go back to school and she is registered to return to school in September 2016. She will continue her business and attend school at the same time.

 

Destitute Women Development Group
Tonkolili District, Northern Province, Sierra Leone

 

Beneficiaries:  48 poor rural women farmersCornfield

Project:  Rice, Corn, and Palm Oil production and sale

This project was begun in 2008 with the main aim of improving the capacity of its members to produce local foods and palm oil and thereby raise their standard of living. Food shortages are still a major problem in the community.

The beneficiaries will be trained for two months before receiving their loans. The 48 women will be divided into groups of 16 and each group will produce a different commodity. 16 will grow rice, 16 will grow corn, and 16 will produce palm oil. Each woman will receive a loan of approximately $113. She will repay $9.42 every month for 12 months. There will be no interest charged because the women are very poor. After expenses and loan repayment, the women hope to net $34 to $41 per month.

Read more about Destitute Women Development Group including their Six Month and One Year Reports and Stories of Beneficiaries

Six month report – received February 2016

This project was begun on August 13, 2015. The women were first trained on rice, corn and palm oil production and they also received training on micro credit concepts for a month before loans were disbursed. Another activity that the group was involved in was assistance to Ebola survivors to help reintegrate them into the society.

Difficulties included illiteracy which hampered the women’s understanding of the training. Also, there were several old members of the group that had already received a loan who needed a second loan, but there were not enough funds for second loans.

 

One year report – received June 2016

This project has encountered several difficulties. The main problem is that the majority of the women have not repaid their loans. The reasons for this are because the women are illiterate, they don’t understand the idea of micro-credit, despite training, and also the economy has been very bad because of Ebola. Of the 48 women who received loans, only 15 have repaid in full. 18 women are still in the process of repaying, and 15 have defaulted. The lack of repayment has caused some problems because the organization had hoped to expand to other villages and this has not been possible. Also, women who are waiting for loans must wait a long time to receive them.

On a positive note, the monthly income of the women has gone up dramatically. Most of the women are now making 5 times the income they made before receiving the loan. Also, the project has helped to increase awareness in the community of violence against women and to mitigate it.

 

Stories of Beneficiaries:

Hawa Bangura is an Ebola survivor. She lost 11 members of her family to the Ebola disease. She is the only one who survived. At first she was very depressed and disassociated herself from the group and the village because of the stigma of having had Ebola. But the staff of DWDG worked with her to bring her back into the society and give her a reason to live. She was given a loan and encouraged to participate with the group. Now she is doing well and joins in the group discussions and contributes greatly to the development of the organization. She is now the leader of their post Ebola reintegration team.

B. Mariama Koroma was one of the poorest women in the village. She is illiterate and in the beginning she found it difficult to work with the organization because she could not understand and cope with the requirements. But she was persistent and gradually has come to understand what is required of her. She has been doing well in her farming and has improved her standard of living greatly. She has paid all of her arrears and is up to date on her loan payments.

Isatu Kamara is a widow with 4 daughters whose husband died of Ebola. Her children had to leave school because she could not pay their school fees. After receiving a loan from the RSWR fund to expand her farm, she now makes 5 times what she previously did. She has repaid her loan in full and also has paid the school fees so that her daughters can return to school.

Adamsay Sesay’s husband is old and she must care for him. He cannot help with the family income. They have 5 children and were living in abject poverty. When she received the loan from the RSWR fund, she and her children began a hawking business. She is now able to feed and clothe her children and her husband and they have moved to a better home.

 

Women’s Consortium for Development
Kambia District, Northern Province, Sierra Leone

 

Beneficiaries:  40 disadvantaged womenWCDBeneficiaries

Project:  Rice, Corn, Groundnuts, Palm oil

Members of WCD are war-affected women and widows. They formed this group in 2007 to try to work together to overcome their poverty and hardships. However, since their funds come only from their own community, which is very small, they are not able to do very much. They feel that if they receive outside funding, they will be able to achieve their objectives of providing micro-credit and micro-enterprise training and improving the economic situation of their members, helping them to become independent and self-reliant.

For this project, each of the 40 women would receive a total loan of approximately $139 to undertake production of 4 commodities: rice, corn, groundnuts, and palm oil. Repayment will be over 12 months with 12% interest. After expenses and repayment, they hope to net approximately $43 per month.

Read more about Women's Consortium for Development, including their Six Month and One Year Reports and Stories of Beneficiaries

Six month report – received February 2016

This project was begun on July 30, 2015. The women were first given training on micro-credit, techniques of producing the 4 crops and marketing techniques.

This project has had some difficulties. The women did not make as many sales of their products as they hoped and some did not understand the idea of micro-credit because they were illiterate. The NGO had difficulties accessing some of the women’s farms because of rivers, streams and swamps. Also, they found they did not have enough trained staff.

So far, SLL.6,120,000 ($1,517) has been repaid out of SLL.23,170,000 ($5,742) loaned. The repaid funds have been used to give loans to new women. The NGO reports that there are 500 women waiting for loans, so more financial support is needed.

 

One year report – received June 2016

This project has encountered several difficulties. The main problem is that the majority of the women have not repaid their loans. The reasons for this are because the women are illiterate, they don’t understand the idea of micro-credit, despite training, and also the economy has been very bad because of Ebola. Of the 40 women who received loans, only 12 have repaid in full. 8 women are still in the process of repaying, and 20 have defaulted. The lack of repayment has caused some problems because the organization had hoped to expand to other villages and this has not been possible.

On a positive note, the monthly income of the women has gone up dramatically, even for the women who are not repaying their loans. Most of the women are now making 3-4 times the income they made before receiving the loan. Also, the project has helped to increase awareness in the community of women’s rights.

 

Stories of Beneficiaries:

Hawa Sesay has 8 children. She lost her husband to the war in 1996. She and her children are all illiterate. She makes her livelihood through small-scale farming. She has done a good job investing the loan funds she received. Now she and her children are farming 4 plots of land and their standard of living is rapidly improving. She is planning to repair her mud block and thatch roof house.

Sallay Kargbo is a survivor of Ebola. The disease affected her eyes and she cannot see properly. After she received a loan from the RSWR funds, she was able to hire people to help her in her farm. Now her farm yield and her income has greatly improved. Recently, she was able to visit the eye clinic in Freetown and her eyesight is improving.

Mariatu Kamara is an Ebola survivor who lost her children to the disease. Earlier, she had lost her husband during a cholera outbreak. She was despondent and did not participate in the life of the village. The staff of WCD encouraged her and she received micro-credit training and a loan from WCD. Now she is participating fully in the organization. She is running a successful business and has made some repairs to her house.

Isata Bangura is one of the founding members of WCD. She is illiterate and unskilled but because of her hard work, she has learned about the project activities and how to undertake a successful business. She has repaid her loan and interest in full and is able to pay secondary school fees for two of her children. She serves as a role model for others in the group.

 

 

Click on the maps below to explore more project areas: