Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Difference 40 Bucks Can Make

In an earlier post I wrote about my work with WomensTrust, a US-based non-profit that provides education scholarships and microloans to girls and women in Pokuase, Ghana.  WomensTrust client Grace Akor (above) has received multiple loans over the years, ranging from $30 to $250, that have enabled her to increase her purchasing power, production, and profit margin for her chop bar, where she makes and serves hundreds of meals of banku every day. A mother of 7 children, 3 of whom are still at home, she maintains two bank accounts -- one personal, one for her business -- and has been able to support her youngest children's educations on her income and savings.


A new survey from Barclay's Bank and Care International UK shows that impoverished women in Ghana, many of whom live on less than $2 a day, are much better at saving money than low-income women in Britain.

In fact, "94% of women in Ghana - where double as many people live below the poverty line as in the UK - save cash compared to 55% of Brits," the survey found, as reported in The Huffington Post UK.

Paulina Nyarko, a multi-year WomensTrust client who runs the only woman-owned hardware store in Pokuase.
Barclay's director of global community investment, Rachel Barber, who wrote about the survey, notes that banks can help alleviate poverty by making it easier for women to save and access small loans to build income-generating businesses. 

The majority of the 106 Ghanaian women in the Barclay's survey, she adds, "although poor, were nevertheless extremely optimistic and expected to earn more money in the future. Three-quarters of them also believe that they already have the skills to do so."

Barber observes that Ghanaian women "have a strong entrepreneurial spirit. This means that despite lack of access to basic financial services, they still save. We also know from our work in developing countries that women are far more likely than men to reinvest the money they make into their families and communities."

WomensTrust is a small operation, run and managed day to day in Pokuase by a dedicated staff of Ghanaians--Wilma, Gertrude, Solomon, Eric, Dominic, Samuel, Abigail--who inspired me with their commitment to building a better future for their country. Their efforts have made a positive difference in Pokuase, and just a little support from us can help them continue this all-important work. 

Want to know more? Check out WomensTrust's website.
Grace Akor making an installment on her loan, at the  WomensTrust office in Pokuase. Intern Rita Nyadzro (r) is a former scholarship recipient of WomensTrust's Keep Girls in School program, which has provided more than 700 scholarships to date to girls like Rita who otherwise couldn't afford to continue their education. Yaa Ofusua Odame (in the background), a recent graduate of the University of Ghana, is a Ghana National Service volunteer. Read about Rita and the scholarship program in WomensTrust's annual report.
(l-r): Loan administrator Solomon Fiagah; intern Rita Nyadzro; Eric Ankrah, general services officer; and National Service volunteer Yaa Odame.

Meet some of the staff of WomensTrust:
(l-r): WomensTrust Executive Director Wilma Longdon with Canadian volunteer Jody Nozetz. Wilma, a former banking executive in Ghana who studied finance at the London School of Economics, joined WomensTrust in early 2011. Read Wilma's personal story in WomensTrust's annual report (p. 5).
Gertrude Ankrah, WomensTrust program development director. Gertie, who grew up in Pokuase, recently traveled to New York City to speak on a panel about rural women and sustainable development, during a conference of the UN Commission on the Status of Women.

Dominic Osei, computer instructor. Read my post about WomensTrust's computer class for girls in Pokuase.

1 comment:

  1. It's so encouraging to know that real change can happen with small acts of generosity.