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Microloans, Major Impact

Belembi wants to raise quail. Melanie wants to open a hair salon. Djenabou wants to sell cow’s milk. Thanks to Breaking Ground’s Women’s Entrepreneurial Program, these aspiring female business owners are getting the chance to realize their goals, earning crucial income for themselves and their families.

The WEP empowers Cameroonian women to overcome poverty by providing training, startup capital, and guidance as they start their own small businesses. The eight-week business course teaches feasibility studies, marketing, budgeting, cost analysis, and leadership. Breaking Ground has partnered with the Community Research and Development Center in Ngaoundéré, which provides classroom space. Several women from each course will be chosen to receive microloans. Projects will be selected based on need and creativity, with a focus on businesses that fill a niche within the community and participants from diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds. Launched in 2006, the program hastrained 150 women and financed 22 small enterprises to date.

To ensure the WEP’s sustainability, Breaking Ground is transitioning from startup grants to microloans. This change will allow women to build relationships with financial institutions, opening the door to additional loans to expand their businesses in the future. Loan repayments will be reinvested in future projects, benefiting not only the current participants, but also women enrolled in the program
for years to come.

The new courses will include visits to local microfinance institutions, familiarizing women with the loan process.  Women will work under close observation from Breaking Ground staff as they build their business, work with the financial institutions and repay the loans.

Breaking Ground hopes to expand the Women’s Entrepreneurial Program to other regions in Cameroon, adjusting the model based on the needs of the local population.

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