MHCD has been running micro-credit programs alongside its other programs for the last 4 years. Innovative ideas to assist poor and disadvantaged women have created many opportunities in the communities in the 6 provinces that MHCD works in across DR Congo.
Dr Luc tells us that, “Once women have money everyone has a better life. Without income the women will just stay very poor. When they get an income, women start sending their children to school and getting good food for the whole family.” If women can start their own business they can set themselves and their families on a path to stability and sustainability. It is empowering.
For widows, single women and victims of rape, micro-credit is the only answer. Isolated and/or rejected by their families and the wider community, rape victims and widows have to support themselves and raise children on their own. MHCD’s micro-credit program gives them hope and a purpose. Women develop a sense of achievement when they can create their own income. The long-term benefits of such support cannot be overstated.
$50 USD is all it takes to set one woman up in her own small business.
Micro-credit programs initiated by MHCD MHCD never hands out money in its micro-credit program. Instead it provides the training and resources for each business to be created. The following micro-credit ideas have set hundreds of women on the path to financial independence: –
- Bread selling – providing skills, baskets and the first loaves to get women started.
- Soap making to sell at the local market
- Tomato sauce production – making and selling tomato sauce.
- Local beer production
- Mobile phone hire – one woman can use her phone as the “public phone” for a village.
- Shoe selling – the first shoes arrived in the container from Australia. Once sold women may then go on buying and selling shoes or use the funds to start another enterprise.
- Tailoring – sewing machines, also from the last container, have been used to set up a tailoring school, women can then make products to sell for themselves.
- Vegetable growing /agriculture on village land is the basis for most microfinance programs. Cassava and ground nuts are very profitable.
- Pig raising – is especially popular. A communal piggery on MHCD’s land is building skills in the community.
- Chickens, ducks, pigeons, goats and rabbits are farmed widely Rice and maise flour are a staple for the Congolese diet