A women’s rights organization has disbursed small-scale loans to 60 women living in vulnerable households in Montserrado and Margibi counties as a means of helping them to overcome the shocks of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The money of which US$75 dollar is given each household, is provided by the Paramount Young Women Initiative (PAYOWI) to help each one of the 60 women to kick-start their lives through small business.
According to PAYOWI leadership, the distribution of the money came after they had implemented a three-month COVID-19 pandemic economic response program in the two counties under the Feminist Humanitarian Networks (FHN) project that seeks to empower women in rural and urban communities.
Hawa Wilson, the Program Officer of PAYOWI, added that the initiative is aimed at empowering vulnerable women who are affected by the pandemic to restart their lives through mini business activities.
“As you may know, during this pandemic everyone was sitting home and doing nothing, especially women at the community level who lack enough to support their families. This situation has the propensity to increase SGBV and other forms of violence against women in various communities,” Madam Wilson said. “We selected 15 women each from the four communities to give us a total of 60 women across the two counties.”
The beneficiaries, according to Madam Wilson, came from four communities within Montserrado and Margibi counties, and were provided the loans to be paid back within a reasonable timeframe.
“We decided to seek out for grants from partners to be able to empower the women at the community level because while they were home during the pandemic, they used their market money to sustain their families.”
She added that some of the women who have benefited from the program are single mothers and the self-supported, while others are widows.
“These women took a little grant for the period of three months that could help them re-establish their businesses, and they are now in the field making efforts to impact the society through the little businesses,” she added.
Ms. Wilson also disclosed that as part of the program plan, they distributed the loan to the women without interest so that they can sell and pay back the capital within the period of 3 months.
Meanwhile, the PAYOWI program officer narrated that the limitation of funding was a lesson learned from the implementation of the project as they discovered that many women were in need of loan assistance.
“There was a great need for more funding as the money was not enough and more women were seeking assistance,” she said. “What we intend to do is that we are not taking back the money that we gave them, but the only thing we will do is that at the end of the three months they will bring it for us to see.”
According to Rosaria M. Kollie, one of the beneficiaries, the loan has helped her business to improve and expand.
“After I received the US$75 from PAYOWI, I decided to turn around and as God could have it, my business is now improving and expanding,” she stated.
Jarbah Jarboi, another beneficiary, also told the Daily Observer that the loan was something that really helped her so much. She noted that even though the money was not sufficient, it came at a time when everyone was in dire need especially in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Madam Jarbah, however, lauded PAYOWI and its partners for empowering them in these difficult times. She acknowledged that there are other women who need to be empowered, but the opportunity is not available. Meanwhile, Madam Jarbeh has appealed to PAYOWI to extend to other women who did not benefit.