Alemnesh Geressu is one member of the Women’s Poverty Lending Program of CRS/Ethiopia (operated in collaboration with the local counterpart, Meki Vicariate, 110 km southeast of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia). Alemnesh lives with her husband, a poor farmer with no land, and their six children. For years, Alemnesh subsisted through petty trade, gaining a small profit, most of which she had to pay back to local money-lenders, paying around 10 percent or more per month.
Alemnesh received her first loan from CRS in 1995. She expanded her work by selling grain in the local marketplace, where she buys at a lower price from nearby farmers. In addition, she is involved in growing vegetables and plowing a plot of land, provided by the Meki Vicariate, with the other members of her solidarity group.
She says that there has been a real change in her attitude on how to tackle her financial problems and she has observed an improvement in her living condition after joining the program. “Before joining the program,” she says, “I had a problem with paying back the interest to the money lender. Now, after receiving the loan from the association, I only pay the principal and interest at a commercial rate that is ten times less than I used to pay to the local money lenders.” Almenesh’s income has increased and she has started increasing her monthly savings. She now has enough money to buy things for her family and is sending two of her children to school. “I have now more confidence and skills in myself and I wish the program could accommodate more women to improve their lives.”