At World Orphans, we believe that economic empowerment is building the capacity of the men and women in the communities served by our programs to participate in, contribute to, and benefit from economic opportunities in ways that recognize the value of their contributions, respect their intrinsic dignity as image bearers of Christ, build stronger families, and improve the quality of life for all members of the community.
Alemitu is one of the caregivers in our program in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Her husband died, leaving her as a widow and a single mother to care for her 10-year-old child. She was struggling to care for her child when she received a 500-birr ($25) loan, and she used this loan to make jewelry. The bundles of jewelry she makes cost her 50 birr, and she can sell them for 95 birr. By doing this, she quickly repaid her loan while generating a profit almost equal to the amount she borrowed. She then applied and received a 1000-birr ($50) loan.
Now, during a workday, she can prepare four bundles of jewelry, and she is well on her way to repaying her second loan. Because this loan has allowed her to increase her income dramatically, she has enthusiastically agreed to help teach other women how to make this jewelry at the next business training we offer.
This is a terrific picture of economic empowerment. The microloan enabled Alemitu to use her skill as a jewelry maker to improve the living conditions of her family. She was not satisfied with one small improvement; therefore, she applied for and put to use a second microloan. Now that she has grown her business successfully, she wants to contribute to the wellbeing of others in her community by teaching her skill to them and increasing their capacity to take advantage of the economic opportunities around them.
Ideally, this is how World Orphans hopes to see economic empowerment grow and change the lives of vulnerable families throughout the world. We hope to move families from merely surviving to ultimately thriving and pouring into other families within their communities. By empowering caregivers, we can both offer them dignity and equip them to empower others in their communities.