Women's Empowerment: First Bold Step

Eleven years ago, Women’s Empowerment International (WE) joined forces with a successful worldwide movement to lift people out of poverty.  Through a variety of approaches, this global effort halved world poverty in just 20 years.

The movement’s next audacious goal is to eliminate extreme poverty by 2030. Most of the poor are women. They can’t adequately feed their families, provide a safe home, or secure health care or consistent education for their children. Most are hopeless, with nowhere to turn.

But WE intends to be there. That’s because the women and men of WE share a passion for helping impoverished women become full partners in society; secure adequate food, housing, education, and health care; have the ability to control their lives and destinies, and have hope.  They can feed their families, send their children to school, buy much-needed medicine, and leave extreme poverty behind.

Even as a grassroots, all-volunteer organization, WE is a significant player in this remarkable global effort, and envisions an ambitious role in the drive to help the 1.5 billion people who live on $1.25 a day lift themselves out of desperate poverty.  That’s our mission.

WE has already funded over 20,000 business loans for hardworking poor women in Honduras, Ghana, Benin, Uganda and Mexico, and helped San Diego women launch 250 businesses and strengthen 227 others. Women like Muhabbat, whose family of six was living on $850 in monthly welfare benefits, struggling to afford food and rent. With the help of WE’s San Diego business incubator, she started a licensed childcare business and increased her family’s income by more than 70% in just two months.

With Activists Like WE, Great Strides are Possible in the Movement to Eradicate Poverty

During its first decade of careful and steady growth, WE forged valuable strengths:  

  • Know-how:  WE knows what poverty alleviation tools work best:  In developing countries -- provide modest cash or food assistance, business training, health information, a savings account, and hope.  And, in some cases, fund a business loan.  In the USA – help unemployable women start sustainable businesses.
  • Ability to deliver results:  WE has effectively partnered with seven international microfinance institutions to help women in six countries begin to work their way out of poverty; built a strong volunteer organization and effective operating model; raised over $1 million; and done so with integrity, transparency, rigor and results.

  • Support Base: Our 500+ members and 150+ active volunteers stand ready to greatly expand WE’s role and impact in the worldwide effort to reduce poverty. Through their support and hours of service, they’ve delivered all aspects of the organization they’ve built over 11 years. Our ability to help the poor started at $25,000 a year when WE was established, and is now $200,000 a year.  By 2020, WE intends to raise a minimum of $650,000/year in service to poor women.

What's Needed: The Next Bold Step

Just like the women we assist, WE needs a hand up to become sustainable and able to greatly increase its impact.  Simply put, WE needs $450,000 in funding that will enable the organization to substantially increase the number of women we help out of poverty and that will enhance the overall impact of our dollars, programs and volunteer effort.  WE will transition from an all-volunteer organization to one that has a blend of volunteer and professional staff leadership.

With this repositioning, WE can fulfill the Board’s vision for greatly expanded partnerships, programs, support, and ability to reach and serve thousands more impoverished women. These are hardworking, determined women who will be able to earn reliable incomes and break the cycle of poverty that has defined their families for generations.

In support of this vision, WE has secured a $100,000 matching gift and set a timeline of securing the additional $350,000 by July of 2016.

The payoff for the women is not just financial, it’s personal.  Angela, an indigenous Lenca Indian, and the mother of seven, used her WE-funded loan to start a tortilla business and open a store in her Honduran home.  She says she’s been well served by the business training and microloans she received.

“Sometimes you feel like you can’t do things. But a loan raises you to the level that you can make things happen. I think now I can do a lot of good.” With her profits, she bought uniforms and books so her younger children could go to school, bought corn to plant on her land, and helped start a highly successful microloan group.

On behalf of the Angelas who await a hand up, please join the men and women of WE in this ambitious effort to help those living in extreme circumstances. These are the invisible poor. WE offers them help in the present and hope for the future.