Foundation for Women
The Foundation for Women's grassroots microcredit effort has resulted in two programs where we are the registered operator, San Diego and Liberia, and four additional partnerships where we provide funding and expertise. In total we have helped to reach more than 300,000 women living in dire poverty.
Globally 113 million people have had access to microcredit as of the end of 2006 (the last year data are available); three billion people are living on less than $2 a day and need such access. The FFW budget began with one donation of $5,000 in 1997 and our 2007 financials exceeded $500,000. We are committed to making microcredit a household word and to expanding our grassroots effort.
The Foundation for Women (FFW) serves impoverished women locally and globally by funding and creating microcredit programs.
Adama in San Diego, CA, US
Adama is a refugee from Sierra Leone who originally fled to Zambia with her 6 children. In Zambia, an old acquaintance helped Adama and her children move to live in a refugee camp. For Adama, who had never been to school, did not speak English, and who was used to providing for her children, this was a different life. She said that going to school in the camp gave her headaches. "I wish learning to read and write could be put in a glass like medicine so I could drink and 'poof' I can read and write".
In 2003, Foundation For Women came into Adama's life. The peer support model empowered her to make the big decision to come to the United States in order to give her children a better life. She succeeded and soon found work at Barona Casino.
At first, Adama couldn’t believe that the strangers of FFW would lend her money. Now, however, Adama has borrowed money for 4 consecutive microcredit lending periods. She began with a loan of $250, then she had 3 recurrent loans of $500. Adama knows how to cook and sell dried African foods and is resourceful when it comes to raising money to pay back her loans. Adama is preparing to apply for a loan of $5,000, with the help of Foundation for Women, and plans to eventually apply for a home loan at a standard financial institution.
On June 22, 2006, Adama received notification that the rest of her family will be able to come to the United States. Her "American Dream" is to bring them all together.
Adama's good fortune has continued to accompany her hard work. Recently, an FFW member had a refrigerator that she wanted to donate. Adama had just decided to expand her business and was contemplating the expensive purchase of another refrigerator. The timing was perfect as Adama needed the extra room not only for her family but also for her growing business. We look forward to welcoming Adama’s family and following her blossoming business.
Josephine Amalan in Melapudur, Trichy, India
Josephine Amalan hails from a poor family but now runs a Welding Workshop of her own in Melapudur, Trichy (India). Previously her husband was daily wage earner and the couple struggled to make ends meet for themselves and their two children. As is common, they managed by borrowing money at high interest rates from local loan sharks. Through a neighbor, Josephine learned about the microfinance program of ASA-Grama Vidiyal and joined the urban microcredit branch as the member.
Josephine slowly started a welding shop of her own by leasing a workshop and collecting equipment. She invested the first and second loans of 3000 Rupees and 5000 Rupees respectively into her business, which she now runs with her husband. She currently employs four men in her workshop and continues to expand the business.
Josephine's business success has enabled her to provide education and basic amenities for her children. Though the business is being carried out jointly by Josephine and her husband, the key functions such as cash management, payment of wages to employees and customer relations are handled by Josephine. She explains, "I want to lead a better life, develop the business into a small industry, and continue to provide local employment". Through her involvment in the microcredit ASA-GV program, she has experienced an awakening and now works to fight poverty in her community.
Veronica Chongwe in Zambia
Sixty-two year-old Veronica Chongwe is a widow with ten children to look after. She was employed as a secretary until 1999, when she developed a heart condition, and was told by doctors that she had to quit her job. As a result, her family struggled with only a modest income generated by renting her house. She now runs a "katemba" (Nyanza for a small grocery store) out of a shed in her front yard, a business she is able to manage with her health condition. She can sit and rest as needed.
Veronica credits the Power of Love microfinance program for giving her the necessary training and capital. She states, "They have opened my head and taught me how to run a business, and now I know how to do it on my own." Her health concerns force her ambitions to remain modest. The shop takes in about $10 a day. She has not yet paid off her loans, but she now earns enough money to pay for all the children's school fees, something she was unable to do when she was not working. She says her children appreciate the opportunity the loan has given her and the effort she has put into her business. She states, "They encourage me to continue and when they are home from school they try to help me."
Veronica hopes to continue the business and run it without the help of another loan. "I don't know what [the future] would have been without the loans. My children wouldn't have been educated. Before, I had stayed for many years without some of my children going to school for training. Now they can go to school."