CSCA-Gondar has developed a partnership with a non-profit organization in Gondar named Bridge of Hope (BoH). Through this partnership our organization became aware of a program established by BoH to facilitate income generation for low income women. The women are selected by their kebele (neighborhood) leaders as the most likely to benefit from the program. This program provides training to women who wish to start a small business and, upon completion of this training, provides small loans (micro-financing) as start-up capital.

This program appears to be having a positive impact in Gondar, and CSCA-Gondar and BoH have decided to expand the program, through funding from donations to CSCA-Gondar, into a rural kebele, Saina Sabia. This kebele is also the focus of CSCA-Gondar’s watershed restoration efforts.

The primary purpose of the loan program is to provide income generation opportunities for the residents of the kebele. Most of the residents are subsistence farmers and do not have the capital to purchase additional income-producing farm animals, crop seeds and better farming equipment and tools. This program offers low-interest loans to residents selected by kebele leaders.

The program officially began in the spring of 2016. Selection of the beneficiaries was done by the Saina Sabia Kebele Administration and the Saina Sabia Savings and Credit Cooperative. These two agencies interviewed applicants and determined their level of need and their capability of using the loan successfully. Priority was given to households headed by women.

Ten beneficiaries were selected for the first phase. Each beneficiary received a low-interest loan of 5,000 Birr ($230). The repayment period is a maximum of two years. Although several options were available, all beneficiaries chose to use the loans to purchase sheep for breeding, wool, and milk. Training was provided for each beneficiary on natural resource conservation, sheep breeding and managing a small business for profit.

Most of the beneficiaries formerly supported their families through foraging for wood and selling it as firewood. CSCA-Gondar is attempting to reduce deforestation, and this program contributes to that goal.

In November, 2016, an additional $1,000 was added to the loan fund by donors. Because of a waiting list for additional loans, CSCA-Gondar was able to increase the amount of the revolving loan fund by an additional $2,000 through donations received in 2017 and 2018.