Investing with Purpose
WomensTrust microfinance loans in $US
Keeping Girls in School Through Scholarships
Scholarships are awarded to promising girls to offset costs of education. WomensTrust works in partnership with families, school administrators, teachers, and community agencies to provide resources and support to keep girls in school.
To ensure successful transition from primary school to junior and then senior secondary school, WomensTrust works with local partners to provide after school enrichment programs that build science, math, and literacy skills; reinforce healthy life choices; and help girls envision options for continuing education and careers.
Our locally-managed microfinance program provides small loans to women – ranging from $55 to $5000 – to expand their small business enterprises. Studies show that investing in women is the most effective way to raise communities out of poverty.
Loans provide access to bulk supplies to increase efficiencies, support the establishment of roadside kiosks, and make it possible to add employees to expand operations. The loans, which are disbursed to accounts established at the local bank for each client, are to be repaid with interest over a four-month to six-month cycle.
Research clearly shows that when girls are educated all quality-of-life indicators improve: educated women have smaller families; live longer and healthier lives; and follow more stable economic paths. Yet, education in Ghana has been traditionally focused on male children. In Pokuase, fewer than 50% of girls finish junior high school because they are routinely taken out of school to do chores and support their families. Today, only about half of all Ghanian girls enrolled in school make it past the eighth grade.
WomensTrust broke ground for a primary school addition of two classrooms on June 18, 2009, completing construction on Aug. 17, on budget and in time for students’ return after their summer break. WomensTrust founder Dana Dakin had been speaking with the school’s principal, Felicia, for several years about the need for a new building. (pdf of press release)
WomensTrust has instituted a scholarship program in the local public schools for Pokuase’s brightest girl students. We work in partnership with families, school administrators, teachers, and community agencies to provide resources and support to keep girls in school.
When our scholarship candidates learn that they are guaranteed an education through senior secondary school, they begin to see options. They do indeed become the hope for long-term change.
Twelve new computers were donated, facilitating growth of the after school computer training program. Literacy and computer training programs are provided outside of regular school time.
WomensTrust provides loan clients free access to Ghana’s National Health Insurance Program, and works to bring basic resources from the developed world to Pokuase. Donated supplies – such as vitamins, blood pressure cuffs, and baby scales – help to draw mothers and their babies for regular medical visits. Donated malaria nets help to address a critical threat, particularly among children. And volunteers and visiting professionals assist with health screenings, provide support for the community nurse, and conduct health education programs on nutrition, reproductive health, and disease prevention.
Our NH neighbor and retired Air Force general, Bo Grove, traveled to Pokuase and developed a business training program for our clients. Although all women in Pokuase work, virtually none has any formal business training. Designed specifically for our semi-literate clients, Bo created a course that addresses the basics—income, expenses, and profit—in pictures and simple text. In addition, our Pokuase staff provides ongoing training to all the women as part of their loan package.
Ghana’s maternal mortality rate is among the world’s highest. According to a newly released national study, one in five deaths among Ghanaian women aged 15 to 29 is due to complications of pregnancy and childbirth (Ghana Statistical Service et al, 2009a). A majority of Ghanaians – particularly those in rural areas – have little or no access to a medical facility. Nationwide, Ghana’s maternal mortality ratio is estimated at 451 deaths per 100,000 live births in the seven years preceding the survey, about 40 times the maternal mortality ratio in the United States. Mba and Aboh - Regional Institute for Population Studies, University of Ghana, P.O. Box LG96, Legon, Ghana.