WISE (Women In Self-Employment)
WISE (Women In Self-Employment) is an Ethiopian organisation,
established in 1996 to support very poor women in Addis Ababa. 60% of the
population of Addis Ababa lives below the Millennium Development Goal
poverty line of US$1/person/day. Unemployment in Addis Ababa is 40%. Both
poverty and unemployment affect women worse than men. In addition, many
women are single parents and hence have even greater household needs.
WISE was established to tackle these problems of poverty, unemployment
and gender inequality.
WISE's vision is: A nation where women are socially and
economically empowered, gender equality is attained, and the current level
of poverty is significantly reduced.
WISE's mission is: To help poor self-employed urban women in
their efforts to achieve self reliance, exercise their rights and improve
the quality of their lives by drawing on empowering, development-oriented
By mid-2008, WISE had organised 12,000 women into 35 SACCOs (Savings
and Credit Cooperatives), in which members save and from which they take
loans for their businesses. The women run microenterprises, mainly in
retail, catering and food processing.
WISE provides the women with training, in basic business skills,
creative thinking, leadership, basic health, gender, HIV, and, for those
who need it, literacy and numeracy. WISE operates from its own building in
Addis Ababa, with training and meeting rooms and a basic health unit,
staffed by two nurses.
WISE found that even when women increased their income, they could
still not afford healthcare, and so WISE facilitates a simple health
insurance association, which helps members of the association pay for
their healthcare costs.
Of the 35 SACCOs formed so far, 12 are now self-sustaining, paying all
their own running costs, including one member of staff each and accounting
services from the Union of WISE SACCOs. This Union of WISE SACCOs provides
banking services on the WISE premises. WISE recruits women who are below
the Ethiopian poverty line of US$0.33/person/day, and through the above
services, helps them to increase their income by about 25% a year.
WISE has many plans for the future. With extra funds, WISE can, for