Ongoing conflict in South Sudan, which broke out in mid-December 2013, has caused mass displacement within the country and across its borders. Seeking safety, shelter, food and basic medicine, more than 1.1 million people have been internally displaced and over 400,000 have fled to neighboring countries, including Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan and Uganda.
Some of the women in Magwi County, near South Sudan’s southern border with Uganda, have spent years in exile. Today, despite the dangers, they have returned to their homes only to face a scarcity of food and clean water, along with poor or non-existent access to such basic services as healthcare and education.
Civil war has also destroyed the women’s livelihoods and the women are now forced to rebuild their lives from scratch. The creation of sustainable income-generating activities is vital, providing a source of income, as well as a precious sense of hope.
The solutions we’re proposing
W4’s field project in Magwi County has launched a microfinance project to support the local community’s 200 women returnees as they rebuild their lives. The project’s approach is two-fold:
First, the women benefit from essential business and management training in order to help guarantee the success of their small businesses.
Upon completion of these courses, the women form small groups of approximately 20 women borrowers. These groups hold weekly meetings and are a crucial component of the project; they serve both to provide support and solidarity for the women in their small business endeavors and to help ensure loan repayments, thanks to borrowers’ mutual oversight.
Each woman is provided with an annual microloan of $125 and makes monthly loan repayments of $10.42 (a 20% interest rate funds the complementary training and a revolving loan fund to provide loans for more women). The women use their loans to start small businesses such as bee, poultry and vegetable farms, grocery shops, handicrafts, or tailoring boutiques.
The impact of giving
Thanks to training and microloans, women returnees in Magwi County acquire the skills, support and financial resources they need to establish sustainable small businesses. They then invest their income in meeting their basic needs and those of their families, including their children’s education.
In a context of violent conflict and pervasive deprivation, you can provide women returnees with a vital opportunity to create new livelihoods, so they can build themselves a better future.