The following are five case studies of women who were members of the first African Woman Food Farmer Initiative (AWFFI) loan groups at Jaldu Epicenter in Ethiopia. These women received their first loans in June 2005 and successfully repaid their loans in June 2006. Their responses clearly demonstrate the life of women involved in THP-Ethiopia AWFFI microfinance program. (At the time of these testimonials, the exchange rate was $1=8.6 Birr.)
Her name is Yadashii Battee. She is 35 years old. She was abducted and then got married to her abductor at the age of 13 while she was attending 6th grade. Now she has three children – two daughters aged 14 and 12 and a son aged 5. Only the oldest daughter attends school now because there is no school nearby their home and the younger ones can not travel a long way. The school is 3 hours travel by foot. She is now leading her family life in agriculture since her husband left her three years ago to work in a goldmine field far from their village. Although he sometimes sends the children clothes, she is the one who takes care of the family.
She is one of the first loan group’s members from Ilike kebele. She received Birr 400 (US$46.51) and bought a calf for Birr 300 (US$34.88) and a goat for Birr 100 (US$11.63). Her goat gave birth to one offspring after some time and she sold it for Birr 165 (US$19.19). She repaid 108 Birr (US$12.56) from her loan at first stage and bought seeds of tomatoes, onion, and beetroot which she cultivated in her backyard. From the vegetable production, she repaid the rest of the loan, Birr 324 (US$37.67), and saved additional Birr 300 (US$34.88). She is the first lady to finish her loan before the fixed date set for repayment. Her calf is now pregnant and she estimated that if she wants to sell it now, the market price is more than Birr 1,000 (US$116.28).
After The Hunger Project-Ethiopia intervention she was elected as a member of the epicenter committee and attended the national strategic forum of The Hunger Project-Ethiopia held at Addis Ababa Hilton in December of 2004; she was also trained as an HIV/AIDS animator and also attended leadership training. She dug a pit latrine in her compound and started cultivation of vegetables in her backyard. She saves and uses her income wisely.
She said that next year she will send her second child to school and plans to build an iron-roofed house. She is now living with her children in a grass-roofed hut. She is actively involved in community activities and has been elected to various committees. In addition, she organized women in ‘idir’ – traditional support association. Through this association, the members meet monthly and each of them save Birr 1.50 (US$0.17) monthly. By their savings, they bought and prepared pepper, teff, ‘shiro’- flour used to make ‘wat’ (sauce) for use for guests during a mourning period.
Her name is Daadhoo Feyisa. She is 31 years old and single. She lives with her parents and six orphan children of her brother. Her father is blind, and her mother is in old age. Thus, she is the breadwinner of the family as a whole.
She is one of the first loan group members from Tasso kebele. She received Birr 400 (US$46.51) and bought one pregnant sheep for Birr 250 (US$29.07), one barrel for Birr 80 (US$9.30) and purchased grain for Birr 70 (US$8.14), all to prepare local drinks for sale. Her sheep gave birth to an offspring twice. Later, she sold one of the offspring for Birr 120 (US$13.95). Now, she has the mother sheep and one of her offspring and if she wants to sell them, she can sell them for over 300 Birr (US$34.88). Her other activity is producing local drinks for sale using the barrel she bought. From the income she earned in sale of local drinks, she became a member of one of the ‘iqub,’ a traditional saving association in her community. She paid Birr 5 (US$0.58) weekly for the ‘iqub’ and an additional Birr 5 (US$0.58) for her loan group’s savings requirement. So far, she has saved Birr 250 (US$29.07) in the ‘iqub’ alone. As a member of her kebele loan committee, she attended leadership training and participated in various meetings held at the epicenter, especially those by the AWFFI program. She dug a pit latrine in her compound, and now her family utilizes it well.
She said that as a result of her participation in the AWFFI program, she has been able to support her family in a better way than before. She pays for the children of her brother’s school fees and buys clothes, exercise books, and other educational materials. She also supports them by renting a house nearby their school at the district town for those who passed grade eight. “I am now very happy in my life since I am able to support the orphan children of my brother especially in their education. If they continue their education they will reach their dreams,” she said.
She also said that the women in her surrounding neighborhood come to her and ask for advice on how to become involved in the loan program, and she gives them the proper information. She is expecting to get a second round loan and she has planned to buy a calf.
Nadhii Maamoo is one of the first loan group members who completed her loan repayment from Shikute kebele. She is 46 years old and has three daughters and two sons. She is a widow. Although she has farmlands in various areas, she cultivated most of the lands on a shared basis since she does not have a grown son who can plough the land. She sends four of her children to school. She is also involved in petty trade activities (producing local drink) to get additional income. She received Birr 300 (US$34.88) in the first loan disbursement. She used the loan for three purposes – with Birr 150 (US$17.44) she bought sheep, with Birr 40 (US$4.65) ‘teff’ for cultivation, and with Birr 60 (US$6.98) she expanded her petty trade of producing a local drink. As a result, she got two and half quintals of ‘teff’ production that cost around Birr 500 (US$58.14) and used for consumption. Her sheep gave birth twice and the first offspring was sold for Birr 170 (US$19.77). She has now the second offspring with her mother that is estimated about Birr 260 (US$30.23) at market price. From the petty trade, she earned Birr 300 (US$34.88) and bought clothes and blankets for her children within a year.
After she got the loan, she said, she got additional resources to support her family in a better way. Even her neighbors’ attitudes towards her have changed very much. They appreciate her ideas whenever she proposes something. They consult with her on how she received her loan and the process she passed through to get the loan. She said that there are women who took her advice and have now gotten a loan from the AWFFI program.
She is now expecting a second round loan. She has a plan to expand her previous activities and also to cultivate her land by herself instead of using it on a shared basis.
Alamii Tufaa is a lady from Goro kebele. She is 20 years old and has two children, a boy and a girl. She lives with her husband, and their livelihood is based on farming.
She received Birr 300 (US$34.88) loan as a member of the first loan groups. She purchased two goats with Birr 240 (US$27.90), four chickens for Birr 40 (US$4.65) and she used the rest of the Birr (20) (US$2.33) or medication when her child got sick. One of her goats gave birth to two offspring twice while the other one gave birth to one offspring twice too. In total, she had eight goats, including the two mothers, within a year. After some time she sold three offspring for Birr 300 (US$34.88) all together and repaid her loan. Her chicken also produced eggs and from the sale of eggs, she started to pay ‘iqub’ and finally she earned Birr 600 (US$69.77) from the ‘iqub.’ With the 600 Birr (US$69.77), she purchased a heifer. Although her chickens died before any medication was given during the last chicken disease epidemic, she now has five goats and a heifer at her home. She proudly said, “I can cover my children’s health expenses and clothes without any problem.” Before, her involvement in the AWFFI program, she said, her husband covered all household expenses. Her husband supports and advised her to continue working with the loan program since he saw the result.
When her neighbors visited her, they would ask her how they can join the AWFFI program, and she advised them that if they fulfill the criteria and wish to undertake income-generating activities on a planned basis, they can get a loan too.
The other point she mentioned was about her savings culture. She never saved her money before the The Hunger Project’s intervention. But after she was organized in a loan group, she started to save Birr 2 (US$0.23) monthly and now she has saved Birr 66 (US$7.67). She said, “In the future, I am planning to propose to my group to increase our monthly saving to Birr 5 (US$0.58). Because the money I saved there was my own money and increased my income; I can use it in the future at my needy time. ”
Apart from this, she said that she has gotten the chance to attend various meetings held at the epicenter which have expanded her know-how on different issues. She is now preparing to attend the literacy program when it starts in their village. She also said that she will send all her children to school when they reach the age of school.
After her successful completion of the first round loan, she is now looking for the second round loan disbursement. She has already planned to use her second round loan to expand her petty trade and goat rearing activity. She also has a plan to purchase oxen and construct an iron-roofed house.
“My name is Ayantu Duubee. I am the chairlady of the AWFFI loan program as well as a member of the general Epicenter Committee. The AWFFI saving and loan program has really opened the eyes of our women in improving their lives, which leads them to self-sufficiency. It has helped them to develop a savings culture. It taught them how to organize in groups and work together with their counterparts for a common goal. Through this program, they develop a sense of ownership and understand their legal rights on their resources. They were able to get access to information on HIV/AIDS through an awareness program carried out at the epicenter. I am very proud to work with The Hunger Project-Ethiopia in general and the AWFFI program in particular. Everybody is now asking how to be involved in saving and loan activities and to improve their lives since they saw the results of those who are engaged in the program. All the activities performed by the support of The Hunger Project-Ethiopia will definitely help our community to get out of hunger and poverty.”
“We are eagerly expecting the beginning of the future rural bank in our epicenter. It is going to be the first bank in our country which is managed by women. Since there is no bank in our district, the opening of the bank will open a new future of development for our people, especially for women. It will not only be used for loans but will also help us to save and use our money easily whenever we need it. Therefore, I am happy to work for and serve my community in this position.”
February 1, 2007