39 women in the Diocese of Nzara received initial basic business training and were then given a loan with which to start a small enterprise. Half of the loan is repaid after one month and the rest after two months. A small interest charge is made in order to build up a reserve to help other women.
This project raises the standing of women in their communities, gives them financial independence and enables them to feed and clothe their families and pay school fees etc. Empowering women is recognised as the most effective way to improve the life and welfare of the community.
Here are some of the enterprises the women have started:
Vaida is a widow, a mother of four children and a member of the Cathedral Choir. She was one of the first to receive a loan. She used it to buy a local oven using charcoal and firewood to bake bread at her homestead and take it to the market to sell. She buys wheat flour, yeast and other ingredients and makes the bread every day. This helps her to support her children, pay school fees and buy food and other necessities like soap and salt.
Here we see her checking the oven and the bread cooling ready to be packed and taken to the market to be sold.
Lois and Mary both make and sell tea in different locations in Nzara town. Lois serves tea from the front of her house using her own chairs in one of the busy roads in Nzara. She also sells “Mandazi” a local bread for taking with tea commonly called “escort”. Mary has been lent a place in the middle of Nzara town market where she sells her tea. So far she has managed to buy plastic chairs for her customers. Both their husbands are unemployed as they did not go to school and so the profit the shops make is a great help to their families.
Rosa is a member of the Mothers’ Union and the wife of one of the prominent members of the church. She has started a restaurant serving local food to the people and traders in Nzara Market. She is careful to cook exactly the right amount of food as it cannot be kept until the next day. In the picture she sits in front of her restaurant. She also sells porridge in the mornings. This business helps her and her family as well as the poor in her neighbourhood.
Agnes and Mary have a business buying and selling palm oil in Nzara market. They operate every day and this helps them raise funds for their families. Both of them are also members of the church. Mary is a member of the Mothers Union. The local government has given them temporary places in the market and has exempted them from paying taxes as they are widows having lost their husbands during the civil war.
This is a growing project and further funds have been sent to enable more women to join the scheme. The women themselves have chosen to charge a small interest rate on each loan and this is reinvested back into the project to increase the number of women who can take part and keep up with the local inflation.