Vision – To help change the lives of women and their families.
Purpose – To build, strengthen, and support women’s cooperatives throughout Africa.
Mission – In partnership with Africa Hope Initiatives, Africa Women’s Hope Initiative (“AWHI”) is a spiritually based ministry with a goal to provide women opportunities to (1) earn a savings bonus or (2) secure a microloan. A savings bonus or micro loan allow women to start or grow small businesses under the oversight of a local women’s cooperative.
What is a savings bonus? The women’s cooperative agrees to save a certain amount of money. Once their goal is reached, they receive a savings bonus. The amount of the savings bonus is dependent upon the amount received in donations and the number of women’s cooperatives visited in any given year.
What is a Micro Loan? A $50 loan lifts women and their families out of proverty. The micro loan program is a zero interest program. Payments are made weekly and the cooperative group meets regularly, pray together and share the experiences of their business. Each cycle is sixteen weeks (four months), and once the loan payment is completed, an evaluation meeting is held. The loan is returned to the borrowers by adding the capital from the business, which is referred to as graduation of capital.
Africa Women’s Hope Initiative Core Values
These values will be at the forefront of all decisions related to the ministry:
Message From Founder – I have been traveling to Rwanda with One Church (Manchester, NH) since 2011. For most of those years, my destination was the village of Gasarabwayi in Eastern Province of Rwanda. I began learning about their women’s cooperative and its challenges. This cooperative originally consisted of a few women with fledgling small businesses.
During my visit in 2019, I proposed the idea of a savings bonus to the group’s president, Rosa. I offered to match whatever amount the women’s cooperative saved within a year through donations. With this opportunity, Rosa changed the old cooperative into a savings cooperative.
In only eight months, the cooperative welcomed 19 new members and was able to save over $1,000 USD. As most of these entrepreneurial women earn an average of $4.25 USD per week, this was an amazing accomplishment! I asked the women about the benefits of belonging to the cooperative. Below are just some of the comments women shared about membership:
In May 2022, I, alone, returned to Rwanda and met with 7 women’s cooperative groups, 2 in the city of Kigali and the rest in rural villages. I learned about how their cooperatives operated and what challenges they encountered. Challenges range from COVID – 19 to no “brick and mortar” buildings to sell goods, to drought affecting fruit farmers. Through generous donations, I had the opportunity to offer 6 of the cooperatives a savings bonus. After this trip I took the initial step and created Africa Women’s Hope Initiative. God placed this ministry on my heart since 2019. I thank God for his patience and showing me that I am capable of being his hands and feet in Rwanda and throughout East Africa. The goal is to offer a savings bonus to more women cooperatives in Rwanda and East Africa as well as individual micro loans. These bonuses and micro loans will assist in starting and expanding small businesses within the cooperatives.
Love and Blessings,
Women’s cooperatives empower women and foster economic development by changing their socio-economic status. Cooperatives create jobs, create long-term savings opportunities and impact entire families socially, economically and spiritually. Women in Africa play a major role in meeting their household’s needs. They are frequently the primary suppliers of food, paying children’s school fees and other basic needs. Despite this huge responsibility, the most vulnerable women are unable to supply the vital needs of the family.
History of Micro Loan Project
The Micro Loan project was born after the atrocities of the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Thousands of families were torn apart in the genocide when mothers, fathers and children were killed in the conflict. Thousands of men lost their lives in battle leaving their wives behind. Many women turned to prostitution as the only way they knew how to provide for their families. Many women contracted HIV. Bishop Theophile Rugubira, the founder of Africa Hope Initiatives, began working with an international non profit organization that provided food and the government provided medicine to widows who contracted HIV. But after a few years, the funding ran out. The food and medicine stopped coming and the women were dying. In 2008, 3 women came to the local church requesting support. The church did not have the funds to support the women, but they prayed for a miracle. Bishop Theophile came up with the idea of the women starting a small business. With no capital to begin a business, he gave each woman three thousand Francs (the equivalent of 3 U.S. dollars). The women started selling a variety of vegetables. One of the women, Josie, now leads the Women’s Cooperative in Kimisagara and she continues to teach and provide guidance to other women as they receive an opportunity to start their small businesses.