The vision of micro-enterprise development strategy is aimed at reaching a poorer clientele especially women in rural and urban areas. The program aims to enhance community building, social and spiritual transformation as well as economic improvement. This is to be achieved through targeting the extremely poor women, promoting gender equity, women leadership at various levels and enabling those living in poverty to transform their lives.

Rural Mothers Union Fund

The vision of the Rural Mothers Union Fund is to help those shut out from the traditional micro-credit market, the poorest of the economically poor, the majority of whom are women. When combined with training, support structures and leadership development, that are part of group-lending strategy, like the Union Bank program, the loans will make it possible for not just economic improvement but also social and spiritual transformation.

Majong Corridor Credit Scheme

To the Karamajong cattle-keepers of North-Eastern Uganda, cattle mean everything to them-their food, their savings account, their social status and their store of traditional knowledge. These rural people invest all their lives in their cattle and small livestock of goats, and sheep.

However, they suffer as their way of life is being threatened by current and constant changes in the world around them. The adverse effects of weather such as droughts which are occurring very frequently, as well as modern livestock farmers, are reducing their land. It is getting harder and harder for the Karamajong of today to get fair prices for their animal products from which they derive income to feed their families. They cannot compete with modern times. They often go hungry as they suffer from luck of food.

The Karamajong need to find other sources of income in addition to keeping cattle and goats. To address this problem, a micro-credit project has been initiated among these herdsmen, to improve their lives. Small loans in amounts of $50, $100, $150, to as much as $500 are to be given out primarily to women with which they can earn extra income for food, healthcare, clothing and education. They are also provided business training. Please consider a generous support gift with which a Karamajong will be able to start a new life in brick-making, butcher shop, growing and selling vegetables, craft making, re-selling of used clothing, tailoring, and re-packaging and selling beans, rice and corn.

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Micro-credit Fund for Agricultural Activities of Rural Families
Bugabula North County-Eastern Uganda

Area farmers find it difficult to improve their small farms or purchase livestock due to lack of access to affordable credit. Many of these farmers already know what they need to make the leap from subsistence living to relative prosperity. They are looking for a way to improve the businesses they are so proud of. A very small loan for some, as low as $55, will allow them to expand and increase their incomes hence savings and set them on the road to transform their lives. With a small amount of capital, they can work their way out of poverty with dignity and pride.

This innovative group-lending model for rural families in Bugabula North county will start with initial loans that range from $55 to as large as $500. The 10 to 20 members in each group will guarantee each other's loans. Leaders to manage the groups' activities will be elected from within the group. After repaying loans successfully, members can qualify for lager loan amounts. Their payments are also recycled to others in the form of new loans. The participants will fulfill their pass-on obligation by sharing their knowledge in fund development and management with other communities.

This fund project needs a total of $59,566.

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Kamuli Women Self-Help Savings Scheme

Put your self in the shoes of a poor woman in Kamuli-Uganda. You spend all day, everyday laboring, tending your garden under the hot tropical sun, and yet you don't make enough to feed your child. You are an artisan weaving baskets. In a week, you can finish two baskets that sell for less than a dollar. As a result, even the feeding of children becomes a problem. When your child gets sick, there is no money to buy medicine. How much would it change your life, if some kind person lent you 55 dollars to buy a second- hand sewing machine?

Ketura was such a woman with limited means to cater for the needs of her family. She was a poor basket weaver. A member of her local church saw the potential in her to improve her lot if she was facilitated. A little interview with her revealed she was willing to learn the art of tailoring. She was given a loan of $ 85 with which she acquired a used sewing machine. She started a small business making clothes, which her husband sells in the markets around the district. Before the family started this business, Ketura and family very often went hungry. She could not afford to raise the money needed for her children's school fees. They never had money for family medical care. Now, the family eats three meals a day, with a diet including vegetables, grains, and a small amount of meat and fish. Her children attend school, and she has money saved up for other family needs.

Kamuli Women Self-Help Savings Scheme was created out of desperation of poor women shut out of the formal lending system. The indebtedness of the poor is one of the main features of low-income communities. An unstable income is common to all employment in the informal sector.

Talking about their daily lives, the women of Kamuli expressed lack of money as a major constraint to their activities. Their husbands contribute too little to the household needs. "We are carrying too much burden", the women said. The women organized themselves to raise money. The objective was to mobilise the scarce savings, fund their economic activities by credits, and advise each other for rational economic management. The members of the group support and encourage each other, and take individual responsibility for their own loans and as well as collective responsibility for the group.

The Kamuli Self-Help Savings Scheme is in need of funds with which to use towards purchasing school books and pay tuition fees for their children. To use the money to escape from indebtedness to local money lenders. To pay skilled labour for house construction. To make bulk purchases of materials used in their businesses. To pay for food, buy medicine and care for the health of the children. To fill in the gaps created when the husbands are out of employment. To extend credit to more deserving poor women in the community. To carry out adult literacy programs that will empower women to access valuable information needed to run their businesses. To enable the women to increase their potential to access more sources of revenue.

This project is in need of $103,884.

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Mulima Micro-Credit Union (Kenya)

The Micro-Credit Union emerged out of the efforts of the village women who initially started out as a mutual help lending group. The community is characterized by high numbers of people living bellow the poverty level, low incomes and large families. Although the region has good soils and receives adequate rainfall, agricultural productivity is low because few local farmers have adopted farming technologies.

Many smallholder families produce small amounts of food but rarely enough to last until the next harvest. Declining yields mean families run short of food every year. As a result, even the feeding of children becomes a problem and drives women into debts for survival. In the case of illness of one of the children, a mother has to go to the money lender, before she can go to the doctor. Children drop out of school, because the family cannot afford to buy the school books. A death in the family is another reason to go to borrow money.

These women have come together to develop projects to achieve food security and raise family incomes. The participants in such a group contribute an agreed sum of money to a pool on a regular basis. This pooled money creates a fund out of which money is awarded to one or several members depending on the size of the fund. There are procedures to follow on who gets the money. This innovative idea by the women enables people who fiind it difficult to save, to gain access to a lump sum of money which they would otherwise not be able to acquire.

As the group became popular and expanded, the women soon realized that further expansion would not be possible without regulation and supervision from the government. They quickly organized themselves formally into a non-governmental organization. This organization played a major role in the development of the Mulima Micro-Credit Union for Women.

To be eligible for membership, a woman must have a low income, she must be willing to participate in group activities according to set guidelines and rules. Group membership numbers vary from 5-20 members per group. The members select a chairperson, a secretary, and a treasurer to take care of the group business. The group is monitored by more experienced group leaders.

The Mulima Micro-Credit Union for Women is determined to raise the social and economic standards of the women and their families. The Micro-Credit Union needs money to help small businesses of low-income women, to help more women gain easier access to reasonable credit for their activities.

Skills training and adult literacy programs will be provided. The skills training will result in positive returns such as easier access to diverse information and easier management of activities, increasing the potential to access further sources of revenue as well as helping women to be able to manage their time and their own human resources. Women will also be taught how to arrange savings and loans, how to keep records of all transactions and understand the group constitution.

This project is need of $94,560 to facilitate program activities.

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Micro-Credit for Survivors (Rwanda)

"It is better to help somebody do something than to give something to that person"

With the effects of genocide still vivid in their memory, nothing is more important to a mother than the life and health of her children. In the rural villages of Rwanda, where families lack even the most basic health and nutritional necessities, urgent need has never been greater.

Neza, a widowed mother of five personifies such urgency for care. "I had nothing to survive on, no hope at all," she narrates. Then help came in the form of a small loan of $ 45 from a women's lending group. Out of desperation and hopelessness, the village women had started a self-help program. Usually, about 10 people form a group, they then each contribute small amounts which is given to one or two people in form of a loan. Usually, the poorest and neediest receive loans first. The money is awarded on the basis of need rather than ability to pay.

After two weeks, the borrowers make their loan repayments. After ten weeks, if the initial borrowers have kept on schedule with their repayments, the next round of borrowers receive their loans, and after another ten weeks, if the previous two rounds of borrowers keep on schedule with their repayments, the third round of borrowers receive loans and the cycle continues.

The members of the group support and encourage each other, and take individual responsibility for their own loans as well as collective responsibility for the group. The borrowers support one another, because the bank will not make subsequent loans while anyone in the group is in default.

With loans as little as $30, struggling families are starting or expanding small businesses that enable them to earn a living and escape the shackles of poverty. The program is effective, and results are there because the money is not just spent but continually reinvested, as loans are repaid and distributed to other needy groups.

Owing to the suceesss of their Micro-Credit program, the women have planned an ambitious program to better the living standards of families on an even larger scale. The Integrated Rural Development Project is expected to facilitate 520 families and 1,200 pass-on families.

The recipients are primarily animal herders utilizing the existing rangelands. The main agricultural problems are overgrazing and low productivity. The project will offer training about integrated farming with crops and animals that is environmentally sound and well integrated with local conditions. Training will also be offered in forest conservation and management, basic animal care, as well as human nutrition. Agroforestry and other farming practices to maintain ecological balance will be taught. Leaderahip training and values-based planning and management will be provided to community groups. It is hoped that alternative farming systems that include integrating sustainable food production with the protection of natural resources will lead to food security, stable and better incomes for the community.

The success of this project will require $116,432 for a three year period.

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