By Bess Zewdie, Research Intern
Global Women’s Water Initiative is thrilled to announce our new partnership with Kiva, the worlds largest – and highly successful – online micro-lending platform. Kiva allows contributors to fund loans in low socio-economic communities, where access to conventional means of financial support is not available.
This is done through their easy-to-use online system, where one can donate anything from $25-$100.This new partnership presents an invaluable opportunity to GWWI by helping two of our organizations service their local communities – Kilili Self Help Program (KSHP) in Kitale, Kenya and Women in Water and Natural Resources Conservation (WWNRC) in Kakamega, Kenya. These microloans are significant to our women due to the ability to finance entrepreneurial projects in a short amount of time, whilst paying themselves AND positively impacting their communities. These micro-business projects include the production and selling of handmade soap, shampoo, reusable sanitary pads and other sanitary-related products. In addition to income-generating purposes, microloans will assist households in purchasing the likes of 15,000 liter rainwater harvesting tanks to provide clean water in these Kenyan regions.
It’s no new revelation that the role of a woman in both the financial stability and sanitary health of her family is incredibly undervalued, particularly in the developing world. In East Africa, where KSHP and WWNRC are based, many women from low-income families are limited to household activities and farm work. Responsibilities beyond that, particularly finances, are left to men. Statistics show, however, that “poor women often have the best credit ratings. In Bangladesh, for example, women default on loans less often than men, and credit extended to women has a much greater impact on household consumption and quality of life for children,”(IFAD 2004). Due to their lack of access to the labor force, women are more inclined to be creative in their financial efforts, and more responsible in their spending.