Expansion of Microcredit

Microcredit Loans Have Reached Over 1,000 Women in Northen Pakistan

In 2008, WEIF partnered with Pakistan's NGO Women's Association for Advancement (WAFA) to create a microcredit program designed to empower marginalized women to combat gender inequality and alleviate poverty in their communities. In its five years of operation, WEIF's Peer Lending Circles project has shown immense growth and success, and remains one of our organization's proudest achievements. In 2013, the program continued to thrive and expand as a result of the diligent hard work of WAFA staff and the determination and courage of entrepreneurial women of Gilgit-Baltistan.

The Peer Lending program began with only four lending circles comprised of 20 women seeking to establish their own businesses, achieve economic independence, and create better lives for themselves and their families. Since 2008, WAFA has dispersed loans to over 1,000 women by August 2014 (up from 735 in 2012), all of whom consistently demonstrated 100% loan repayment a rarity among microcredit programs worldwide. Over 17 of these women gained the personal and financial resources to graduate to macro-level loans from commercial banks, enabling them to continue to grow and realize their full potential. Women who receive loans are often able to move above the poverty line within two years, as the income generated from the businesses they own and operate profoundly impacts their families and communities. Increased financial sustainability allows women to enroll their children in school, purchase "luxury" items such as refrigerators, and invest in their spouse's businesses. Entrepreneurial women obtain life insurance and develop personal savings accounts to serve as a source of security and stability in their lives something which was previously beyond their imagining.

The microcredit program is built on a model of sustainability and self-sufficiency. Interest generated from loan repayments and recycled loan funds have allowed the first Peer Lending Circles project, established in the District of Gilgit, to become fully self-sustaining. Following this milestone, in 2013 WEIF and WAFA, with funding from Ptarmigan Charitable Foundation expanded the microcredit project to the District of Hunza at the request of women living in these areas.

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