Tag Archives: entrepreneurship

The Effects of Child Sponsorship and Microfinance

6 Aug

On a recent field visit I had the opportunity to travel to a Canadian sponsored ADP (Area Development Program). I was there to gather information about World Vision Ethiopia’s relationship with Wisdom Microfinance, World Vision’s affiliated microfinance institution, and about the Child Savings Program. In addition to talking with staff at each organization’s office, I had the chance to visit beneficiaries.

The first farm that I visited was a modest small family farm of approximately 1.5ha. Two of the household’s children are World Vision Canada sponsored children. The 16 year-old male has ambitions to be a pilot while his 13 year-old sister wants to be an engineer. While I enjoyed speaking with these two (through not one but two translators: from English-Amharic and again from Amharic-Oromifa), it was their mother who I was in awe of.

She had 6 children, ranging from ages 7 to 22, and her and her husband started with a small piece of land which they farmed, but they struggled to get by – ten years ago they would have qualified as food insecure and living in extreme poverty. When World Vision and Wisdom Microfinance came into the community, she saw an opportunity. She received a small loan from Wisdom and used it to by a donkey, 4 goats and seeds for potatoes. After she repaid her initial loan, she joined a local savings group and withdrew a second loan. With this loan she bought 2 cattle, more vegetable seeds and loaned more farmland. After repaying this loan, she withdrew her third loan and bought an ox. She worked to fatten the ox for about a year and sold it for a large profit – her profit was several times the amount of her initial loan! She is now applying to receive her fourth loan.

This lady is seriously smart and is a savvy businesswoman. She knew exactly when to buy and when to sell her assets, and now her family is considered to be food secure. Additionally, with her savings she was able to support her two oldest daughters (ages 19 and 22) through high school. The nearest high school is about 10 km away from their home, so they rented a room in the school’s village. Her daughters are now working abroad in Saudi Arabia as maids. She wants to be able to support her younger 4 children in the same way so that they can have a different life from subsistence farming.

And the coolest part about this woman? When I asked if she had any questions for me or if she thought there should be any changes in the services offered, her response was: “Train other people the way I was trained. Before I had nothing, but now my family has so many assets. Give others the opportunity that I had.”

She shows the strength of women. She shows the power of microfinance.

To sponsor a child through World Vision Canada, go here.

Are women too modest when it comes to business?

7 Mar

So far I have been failing at maintaining this blog, and have been dedicating my time to other things (school, guard team, Zikomo Bags, you know the drill). But today I have an incredible sense of accomplishment from FINALLY publishing the new Zikomo Bags website that I have put countless hours into and am inspired to blog.

Today I was browsing the Globe and Mail website (okay, I admit it, I was watching the Kony video now that I have Internet again), and came across an article about women and entrepreneurship. Since getting involved with Zikomo Bags, I have been drawn to the business side of development, so the article piqued by interest. In the article, “For women in business, modesty is not the best policy” Carolyn Lawrence argues that women’s modesty is the reason many entrepreneurs have limited success.

Most interesting though, were the comments from readers. Some readers decided that modesty is an attribute and actually makes for a better leader. These people also think that women should be celebrated because they don’t boast like men; men should strive to be more humble like women.  Others say that women are modest because when “they behave like men” they’re called a bitch. Then there are those with the “who cares” philosophy.

Evidently there are some gross generalizations in the article and the comments, but what do you readers think? Is modesty a hindrance or an attribute to women in business? Or is it completely irrelevant? Here is my opinion: check out the amazing new website that I designed – www.zikomobags.com!