Welcome to the Songhai
Women's Capital Fund!
Eliminate Poverty Now partners with the Songhai Centre in Benin to provide funds for women graduates. Impressed with Songhai's loan fund, which enables new graduates to start businesses, EPN offered to expand the existing capital pool with an additional revolving fund dedicated to women graduates, providing $100,000 over the next 5 years. Most of these loans go to men for two reasons. 1) they represent the vast majority of students, and 2) women rarely apply for loans because they lack traditional forms of collateral, such as land. EPN gave Songhai the impetus to think through how to support women graduates as they look to start up their own ventures, and it created an added incentive for women to attend the Centre.
Songhai developed a process to administer the program, and formed a Loan Committee comprising many of the top leadership of the Center. They publicize the fund to current students, previous graduates and local women’s collectives. The Committee carefully evaluates the proposed projects and the applicants. Before loan funds are disbursed, the Loan Committee visits the site to be sure everything is in order for a successful start. During the term of the loan, the Centre will make regular farm visits to check on the project’s progress and provide any necessary technical support. While one of their concerns is loan repayment, their top priority is the success of the project.
As they put it, "Women can't get collateral. So Songhai will be their collateral."
“In 10 years I hope Benin will have a women president. Women are the ones working up steadily from their old roles in the home and we own lots of businesses in Benin. This is just the beginning for us. If women can keep improving their lives, Benin will develop too."
“My end goal? To watch my daughters grow up in a country not known for its poverty, but for its strong, innovative women."
"Through my training at Songhai I saw the relationship between agriculture and animal husbandry. I saw how they re-enforced each other and thought that is an easy, good way to decrease poverty. I want to do that."
"People always talk about famines here in Africa, but we have the natural resources to develop and avoid starvation. People just need to value and use all their resources like Songhai teaches."
|John and Songhai Centre Founder, Father Godfrey Nzamujo|