Founded in 2008, Women’s Microfinance Initiative (WMI) seeks to empower poor women in rural areas of East Africa to engage in income-producing activities and raise the standard of living of their families. WMI establishes village-level loan hubs to offer training, support services and capital to women in the lowest income brackets; these women then use the knowledge and resources to start small businesses.
Common investments include growing and selling produce, opening small shops and beauty salons, and growing coffee. Once women graduate from WMI’s program, they are able to send their children to school and gain better health care, all while earning a stable income. Ultimately, the organization seeks to develop its microfinance initiative into an independent banking system in the formal economy of various African nations. WMI is run entirely by local women; since its launch, WMI has issued $4.5 million in loans to over 12,000 women. The non-profit currently operates 14 village hubs in rural Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya.