This November we got to celebrate as more than 100 of our moms graduated from a micro-finance training program developed by an organization called Women in Self Employment (W.I.S.E.). W.I.S.E. is run by Ethiopians for Ethiopians. They have been in Addis for more than 20 years and have a vast understanding of business and what it takes to empower women.
Back in October, they spoke to our moms about their program and told them how they could get involved. Some of the women who had been through their program shared their stories of how W.I.S.E. had impacted their lives. After that first meeting, we had 100 moms register for the course. One of the immediate benefits of the training was that these women began to set aside money for their savings for the first time in their lives. W.I.S.E. requires that they save 10 birr every week that goes into their individual accounts. They attended five training sessions that lasted from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm.
The W.I.S.E. training focuses on developing strong life and business skills. The moms learn about how to develop self-confidence, work with others, resolve conflict, create a vision for yourself, create a business plan, save money, manage time, and create a profit. They also learn accountability by being required to arrive on time for all meetings or face the payment of a 3 birr penalty fee if they are late. This is to teach them a valuable lesson on punctuality.
On Wednesday, October 31st, we celebrated their accomplishment at the W.I.S.E. headquarters with the handing out of their graduation certificates. The room erupted with singing and dancing. Everyone was on their feet and the joy could be heard throughout the entire facility! It was an incredible sight to witness these women experiencing the realization that their lives don’t have to remain the same. They are not limited by their current circumstances. “I am not poverty!” the instructor shouted. “I AM NOT POVERTY” echoed all of our moms in a roar.
Now, all of our moms will continue to save and after three months from the date of their graduation, they will each qualify for their first loan. Tsion and I will meet with them over the course of these three months to hear about their ideas and see how we can help them get it started.
We can’t wait to see what comes of this training and this new partnership with W.I.S.E. Adera loves getting to work with other organizations as we assist one another to reach our common goal of empowering the women in the Kore community. Let’s see what God does!