The Power of Microcredit
Women stand up for local development of Lotumbe
by SAFARI Kanyena Désiré, Local Development Advisor
Mme WUTEDJI Marie-Jeanne is the president of the Microcredit initiative in the village of Lotumbe. She is single but takes care of 7 children.
Since 1997, she was appointed as a nurse at Lotumbe hospital but she is not yet paid by the government.
That is why for her daily life, she relies on farming and cooking cakes. She goes to Mbandaka each month to purchase flour and sugar.
She often travels in a non-motorised canoe in which she spends 8 days, 3 days going and 5 days when she returns to her village.
Her own capital funds are about 100.000 Congolese Francs ($110 US). When she needs more, she has to borrow money from the microcredit group.
Microcredit is key for economic autonomy of women in her village
“With microcredit, women are changing day to day, we become true economic agents and the village feels our presence.”
One Microcredit group in Lotumbe comprises 28 women whose main business is farming. Microcredit helps them to develop other faster income generating activities such as small scale trading like cooking bread.
“Getting access to easier credit is a way to assure food security, family education, clothing and health care, but also, it's a way to develop our resources and handle money every day.”
Microcredit associations align women in a visionary way.
They no longer work to meet their present needs but to assure their future. For that, Mme Wutedji is optimistic. She ensures that women are working hard.
“We want to impact on the future of our village. We want to create a real cooperative, a visible economic place in the community. We are planning to produce and supply Lotumbe in the basic local and even manufactured products. We are working for money but more, for a vision.”
She has learnt some lessons from the past
“We recognise some failures in the past. We think that we need to make a difference. Perhaps we failed in the process of our development because women were not practically involved in the management of village development. Now, we want to boost a new way in which women are the managers and deciders of the process."
"For example, we think that, in the case of the community store, we will contribute our money, each lady will give a certain number of shares and then we will constitute a local capital seed. We will appoint some sellers and then, we will be the direct owners, the managers and the controllers of the activities,” she said.
But lack of some facilities could shut down the process
“For our success, what we need more is the transportation facilitation. If we get our own out-board motor, we will be faster in our travels on the river, we will earn in time and in money. Instead of spending 8 days, we will use 3 only. We will get also money from other passengers.”