A month and a half ago I gave a class on HIV to 54 women at the Ngong Center. They meet weekly in a support group, a few are in the WEEP program. The next week I went to language school…today, as I returned to Ngong they were very happy to hear me greet them in Swahili. Of the many blessings I received today, the greatest was seeing the progress of the WEEP graduates.
They have built a culture of hard work, savings, accountability and Christian fellowship. I am very impressed at what they have been able to achieve. Through WEEP, they learned business skills, confidence, organization and budgeting. Now they are supporting their children and they are lights to their neighbors. They pool a portion of their income in a “Merry-Go-Round”.
How their “Merry-Go-Round” works:
- Weekly meetings to discuss money matters. Each woman contributes at least 100 shillings ($1.20) per week to this cooperative. They were able to start with the graduation gift from Bayside church (about $150 each).
- The woman who wants a loan must show that she is trustworthy for repayment. She is not allowed to hear the discussions of pros and cons of giving out that loan to her.
- They allow certain others who they associate with regularly to be a part of the group, but she must contribute $150 before they will be considered eligible for a loan.
- They also will loan out money to non group people at 30% interest. This is equal to or less than the current bank rates. To group members, the rate is 18%.
Why this is Success:
When starting the WEEP program they thought they were on their death bed, that they all were abandoned, they thought their children would be orphans, they lacked food and were prey to the evil forces at work in the slum.
Each woman has taken the first loan from the fund and nearly all have repaid it with interest within a few months. So the money is building very nicely. They are not out of the slum but they have one another, they have skills, they have confidence, they stand with one another and they build up one another in faith and good works.