This was another inspiring day with Ugandan women who are so earnest and so eager to learn and better themselves. Our program has always been more than just loaning out money and getting it repaid. The goal is to help women work their way out of poverty and thus education is a big component of the program. We give the women three days of training in basic but critical business skills so that they have the tools to be successful and create sustainable businesses. They are good students. They are very attentive, there lots of ‘ah ha’ moments. While many of the women have run small businesses in the past, many have simply been buying and selling products, not utilizing any purposeful business techniques or practices. They have not created sustainable businesses. There has been some resistance from the borrowers to spending three days in training. The ladies today watched as one of the loan coordinators and a trainer did a role play in which that resistance was loudly vocalized and loudly countered by the fictional loan officer. The women always enjoy role playing and it’s an effective training technique for an audience that has limited literacy skills. The women were eager to participate in the role play and it was meet with cheers and jeers from the audience.
This has also been a trainer-the-trainer session. I have been training women to train borrowers when I’m gone. The two women who will be handling training in their respective villages, both have a lot of experience as teachers and so it was time for them to present a sample of our training to demonstrate how they will train the borrowers. I was just thrilled and somewhat astonished to witness the skill, professionalism, and dedication of these women. They had clearly worked hard, learned what I’d been teaching and carefully prepared for their presentations. They demonstrated good mastery of the subject matter, great ability to work with learners and manage discussion with the other participants. They have great enthusiasm for this program that will help them all work their way out of poverty. Perhaps above all, they clearly care about communicating and helping the other women in the program. Such a great example of women helping women. This training is a reflection of our core belief that women are equipped to help each other in very powerful and important ways. When I meet people from other nonprofits working in Africa, they are always astonished that we train local women to administer our program on the ground. There is a belief that these women are not educated enough, that professionals are needed and thus, many organizations employ layers and layers of bureaucracy to run a program. This, of course, takes financial resources that could otherwise go into micro loans. Equally as important as conserving financial resources is the effectiveness of this approach. It works! Using the local talent creates a sense of ownership of the program, gives local women management experience which is well within their reach and lets borrowers see that TGC is partnering with their local leaders.
Good night from Africa!