When you invest in a woman, not only are you changing her life but you are also changing the trajectory of her children’s. Yesterday I visited Kundwa Collective the business side of Word Made Flesh Rwanda. As they were sharing their projects, my business heart soared. They have created a Savings and Loan Association. I had the opportunity to study Village Savings and Loans in 2010 in Ghana. The poor have no ability to save or take out loans. Why? Because it is not profitable for businesses to create programs for people who cannot afford to pay for them. Having the ability to save is necessary for every day life. They save in order to have school fees when it comes due and for health insurance. Let me explain how this works. They have 2 groups of about 15 women who all bring a certain agreed upon amount of savings to each meeting. When they are a few months in, members from that group can take a loan using those funds and have a certain amount of time to pay it back with interest. At the end of the year, they take the balance of the account and give it to each members along with the interest that was paid. They have 1 group account at the bank so the money is safe. Word Made Flesh has paid the fee to open this account. It costs about $11 to open a bank account. Guys, this is a lot of money for the ladies. While they have their weekly meetings, they do Bible study and they pray for each other. Building community is one of the most important aspects of this program.
Another project they have is entrepreneurship training. They teach them business basics and how they can create a sustainable business. At the end of the program, they write a business plan and are given seed capital to launch their business or if they already have one, they can apply for a grant to take it to the next level. I can’t even begin to share how much I love this. When you invest in a woman, you are telling her you believe in her. When she creates a business and begins making money, her perceived value changes in her community and the lives of her children change. For me, I am not all about exporting products. Jobs can be created locally that will not only produce an income but will also provide a much needed service in their community.
Finally they have a project that creates jewelry, dog leashes and toys. They currently have 5 women. As I sat there learning about their work, I watched as the little kids played at their feet. Working moms you know how hard it is to get affordable and reliable childcare. Imagine not having any money to pay for this service. I am so thankful that our groups realize this and accommodate each woman based on her situation. They even take it a step further, they do home visits. They schedule these to ensure she is doing well and her children are being provided for. This is honestly why we partner with the groups we do. While the bottom line is important to remain in business, it’s not what motivates us to do this. For all of us, it’s about the person behind the product. I left this project thankful that God has created this work for these ladies using the people He chose. What do they make? Leather leaf earrings. Get ready guys- I am bringing a bunch of new ones home!