In a developed society, we often take education, and the opportunity to learn, for granted. We cannot imagine a childhood without school. We cannot imagine a life without being able to read or write. As a result, we do not realize the impact that education has on us.
Growing up, our borrowers had to fight for the very basic needs in life – food, shelter, and clothing. Education was a luxury that they probably didn’t even dream was possible. Illiteracy makes it even harder for the women to run a business. How could they determine if they were making a profit? How would they maintain their inventory?
Education is not simply about literacy,
it’s about giving girls back THEIR POWER.
In the book The Women’s Crusade – Half The Sky, Nicholas D Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn state: “There’s a growing recognition among everyone from the World Bank to the U.S. military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff to aid organizations that focusing on women and girls is the most effective way to fight global poverty and extremism. That’s why foreign aid is increasingly directed to women. The world is awakening to a powerful truth: Women and girls aren’t the problem; they’re the solution.”
The Greater Contribution focuses on women, helping them to become financially independent. A key aspect of that is education and training. This is why we stress the importance of training when our borrowers come to us for a microloan. We provide ongoing training throughout the life of their loan.
What do they learn?
They learn how to read and write in their local dialect. They also learn basic English because English is widely used in Uganda. Through this training, our team can more easily communicate with our borrowers. They also learn basic math, which helps them with inventory and profit and loss calculations. This also helps in their lives other than businesses; they can count the number of bags of groundnuts they bought, or keep accounts of their savings. TGC also provides business training; we teach out borrowers things like how to better market their products, how to buy goods at wholesale and then sell them at retail, etc.
Grace was shy and never spoke up. Towards the end of her literacy training, she stood in in front of the crowd and read a few paragraphs for Karon Wright, co-founder of TGC. She had tears in her eyes at the end of this, as did Karon.
Another borrower told us that now she sits and studies along with her children, who go to school, and she is able to help them with their homework. We can all imagine how happy and content that makes any mother.
As our borrowers become literate, they are more likely to send their daughters to school rather than involving them in chores at home. They know that through education, they are preparing their daughters to be successful later in life, and thus break the chain of poverty. Studies show that if a girl stays in school, she is less likely to get pregnant at an early age; and that she is more likely to contribute to the household income.
Through education, our borrowers are armed with a new weapon to fight poverty.