Genet Musa, 40, is the Chairperson of the Savings and Credit Cooperative (SACCO) at Mesqan Epicenter in Ethiopia. Prior to The Hunger Project entering her community at Mesqan Epicenter, Genet received some basic education from another NGO in the area. From them, she received a basic education, which she put to use when The Hunger Project began running programs at Mesqan.
Her first training with The Hunger Project was on how savings are important for starting a business. It was after receiving this training that Genet took out a loan from The Hunger Project’s MFP program for 300 birr ($14 USD) to improve her business. Genet is a merchant; she sells what her husband farms. When she realized her business skills had improved due to her training with The Hunger Project, she returned to receive training on how to make money and how to make a better business. Since then, she has taken out eleven loans.
She says, “The Hunger Project gives [loans] but more importantly, the skills and the training that I get from the training are much more important.”
Genet is now in her ninth year as the Chairperson of the Savings and Credit Cooperative (SACCO) at Mesqan Epicenter. She is responsible for overseeing the other cooperative members and ensuring that loans are taken out responsibly and paid back to the mfp institution. Her commitment to The Hunger Project and to the SACCO committee comes from her understanding of what these trainings and loans can do for her community. Though she does not get paid, she says, she is “doing it for our community.”
Genet married her husband at 18 and has had seven kids, five of whom have survived into adulthood. She receives loans on behalf of her family in order to improve her merchant business. Her husband supports her in her leadership role, she says they work together to fulfill the needs of their children. She says that though her relationship with her husband has always been respectful and equal, many men in the community complained when the women first began receiving trainings and acting as leaders with The Hunger Project. Now, however, mindsets have shifted and those beliefs are considered out of date.
With her loans from The Hunger Project, Genet built a house. She and her family had lived in a traditional hut with one large room, a mud floor, and a straw roof. With loans and training, she was able to make her business successful. This success brought profit that she was able to save at the SACCO. With this savings, Genet built her family a modern home and tore down her old one.