In 2012, the Global Fund for Widows launched the Amal (meaning ‘hope’ in Arabic) Project in three villages in rural Minya, Egypt. Amal started as a humble effort to economically empower widows and female breadwinners through vocational and financial literacy training, as well as micro-finance and innovative micro-social savings and lending groups.
Amal equips widows with the resources and support needed to establish microenterprises, and in turn to sustain themselves and their families. More importantly, the Amal Project is premised on an oath that every widow takes to support other widows on their journey to self-relieance once she is able to stand on her own feet.
Winner of the Women’s Federation for World Peace International Award 2019!
The Global Fund for Widows launched programming in India in 2017 in partnership with the Guild of Service, a veteran in the field for widows’ empowerment. The Sana Project, focused on the war torn region of Jammu and Kashmir, aimed to train war widows – most of whom have young children – in the ancient art of Kashmiri embroidery. Over 50 widows received 36 days of embroidery training. Upon graduation, the widows all received a government Artisan Card, a critical certification that enables them to work readily in the private or public sector. In addition to helping many of the widows place into permanent jobs within the region, The Global Fund for Widows connected its graduates to industry designers, thereby enabling them to work from home and earn a sustainable income.
The Global Fund for Widows is currently expanding activities by sponsoring value chains to support the embroidery enterprises. Widows will be recruited to become vendors for raw materials needed to support widows who are embroidering, such as threads, needles, and textiles. Other widows will become solar lantern vendors and operate solar charging stations, not only supporting widows efforts to increase their own productivity, but helping others in the community such as students who need light to study at night.
With these initiatives, the Global Fund for Widows expects to cultivate a well-integrated value chain that offers widows an income stream that is highly visible, and highly sustainable.
In 2018, Global Fund for Widows and International Collaborative, a Tanzanian organization, began working together to empower Maasai widows in three rural Tanzanian villages. In each village, the 25 Maasai widows pooled their money, and with the assistance of GFW’s impact investment, started their own banks. These banks, called WISALAs – Widows’ Savings and Loan Associations, enable the women to borrow money to then use on small business ventures. With loans from the WISALAs, the widows will start a co-operative goat raising business by collectively purchasing land, a corral, and goats which they will fatten and sell. This structure also has the potential to become a value chain should more widows join in the coming years.
This venture will not only allow the widows to earn a living wage – the money they earn will have a life changing impact. Though most Maasai families do not have the ability to send their children to school, the $34 dollars these widows are expected to earn per year is enough to send one of their children back to school for a year!
Global Fund for Widows launched the Brookbank Project in 2019 with field partner Come Together Widows and Orphans Organization, opening 10 WISALA banks for 250 widows in Kenya. Widows participating in the WISALAs – the first ever of their kind in Kenya – will be able to borrow funds from their own bank and launch micro-enterprises of their choice. The WISALAs, to be established in 10 neighboring villages, will enable widows to have access to financial inclusion, credit and savings mechanisms.
Global Fund for Widows launched a comprehensive value chain project in Nigeria in 2018. With a small impact investment from GFW, 400 widows in the village of Umuegwu have been able to refurbish a small community palm oil press, dig a well, and build a water storage unit that is not only critical to the operation of their palm oil mill, but saving the widows from the inefficiency and back-breaking task of fetching water to press their palm fruit into oil.
Our program also included a donation to plant 1,500 palm trees, giving widows the critical gift of ownership and income for the first time in most of their lives.
Other portions of the value chain include micro-loans to widows who are building cottage industries related to the oil mill including transportation, packaging, and higher value added food preparation.
Windows for Widows – Heather Ibrahim Leathers
Womensphere Emerging Leaders Global Summit 2011 : Global Fund for Widows illuminates on “Why Widows” and the direct link between widowhood and global poverty.
Following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, orphans created by the quake were sent to orphanages in the Dominican Republic. Orphanages in the Dominican Republic consequently doubled in size, with no increase to their operating budgets from the government. The GFW instituted a partnership with the orphanages, providing critical funding to allow them to hire WIDOWS to become caregivers, nurses, teachers, and cooks to the orphans. The program, welcomed by the orphans, the orphanage, and the Dominican community, is ongoing with great success.
In 2011, the GFW launched its Micro-Social Capital initiative – an innovation in the field of philanthropy created and coined by the GFW. With a NGO partner in Bolivia, the Micro-Social Capital program provides widows with a micro-capital investment to launch a micro-enterprise. The widow in return enters into a social contract with the GFW, promising to use profits from her enterprise to extend the virtuous cycle and money multiplier effect by hiring another widow as she expands her own activities.
Ultimately, empowered and profitable widows will make contributions with their profits to a social endowment fund, intended to support elderly widows in the community, provide funding for emergency or critical surgery, or help with education expenses of their children. The GFW is very proud of the success its widows in Bolivia are enjoying under the new program.