In May 2010 a project was launched to provide business training and loans to 15 women in the Diocese of Nzara to start a small enterprise.  The arrangements made were that half of the loan is repaid after one month and the rest after two months.   A donation of £1,000 was made and £100 loaned to an initial 10 ladies.  As the money was repaid the remaining ladies were given a loan.  From March 2011 the ladies received a start-up loan of £200.  The ladies decided a small interest charge of 5% should be made in order to build up a reserve to help other women and to help counteract the effect of inflation.  The project expanded to 39 women.

The reason for this project is that it 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.

The loans to the women do not keep up with inflation, so funding must increase to maintain the worth of the loans and to enable more ladies to create new businesses.

In 2023, a legacy of £6,000 was given to The St Timothy Foundation allowing a new Microfinance Project in Yambio to be created and extra finance injected into the Microfinance Project in Nzara.  Each received £3,000 at the request of the donor.  As inflation continued the value of the loan reduced and the number of ladies supported by the system reduced.  Hence £3,000 will help a greater number of ladies to be given the chance to start their own businesses.  Getting a small business up and running for these ladies is very difficult – between 2009 and 2022 the average inflation rate was 71.2% per year.

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

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

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.

Project Success

Women’s Microfinance 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.

More funding is required to ensure the continued success of this project.