Promoting Health and Financial Stability for Women
In communities in Kumasi, many women find themselves struggling to financially support their families. Most women are often living in poverty, have not completed formal education and work as vendors in the Bantama Market for low wages. For many of these women, the need for these loans to finance their businesses led them to borrow from microfinance companies that offered loans at 43% interest rates, effectively wiping out the women’s chances of repaying the loans, let alone making a profit from them. In collaboration collaboration with WomenStrong International and Women's Health to Wealth, AI has launched two projects in Kumasi - the Kumasi Market Women Project and the Girls’ Club Project.
As for the Kumasi market Women Project, SoCCs have allowed women to secure 12% interest loans that boosted their business production and sales. As a result, the women were able to not only make more money but to become more confident and business savvy. At the end of 2015, about 138 women were enrolled in the program, and about 200 collateral-free loans worth about 229,394 Ghanaian cedi ($60,000) had been disbursed to the women. To gain admittance to the SoCCs program, women must undergo a preventative health screening, a first for many of the participants. Women are earning SoCCs for maintaining the cleanliness of the market, supporting their female children's education as well as other health and education initiatives. With the SoCCs they have earned, women are able to redeem healthcare, business training, shade umbrellas, school supplies, exam fee subsidies and other items needed by the community.
For the Girls’ Club Project, girls are earning SoCCs for regular attendance at school, waste management, planting trees, participating in team sports, tending kitchen gardens and learning about reproductive health care. SoCCs are redeemed for BECE exam fees, school supplies and group outings.
(Updated in 2017) In May 2017, there were a total of 254 members enrolled in the Kumasi Market Women Program. Also, the expansion of SoCCs to Girls’ Clubs has spread the SoCCs program to over 1,000 junior high school students from 36 schools in Bosomtwe and Afigya, Kwabre, Atwima Nwabiagya and Kwabre East districts. As of June 2017, 936 girls are currently enrolled in the Girls’ Club Program.