WOMENPOWA: Empowering Displaced Women in Marginalized Communities

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10 women from 5 informal communities in Lagos benefitted from the 2nd phase of the Communities Alliance against Displacement’s (CAD’s) WOMENPOWA program for slum women on the 2nd of February 2021. CAD first launched this revolving loan scheme in 2018 to provide small grants to displaced women in its member communities to rebuild their small businesses destroyed during demolitions and mass evictions.

Women living in informal communities have experienced or are threatened with repeated demolition of their homes and small businesses they depend on to support their families. Because they are unable to access bank loans and services that address their needs, they lack the capital needed to rebuild destroyed businesses and build wealth. WOMENPOWA initiative was launched to fill the gap in access to resources, thereby promoting gender inclusion and increased women participation in the design and implementation of urban development policies and programs in their localities.

The loan scheme rotates round 4 batches of five women every quarter. Against the backdrop of economic downturn triggered by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic which adversely affected small business, CAD increased the number of beneficiaries to ten women drawn from five member communities—Ago-Egun, Ifesowapo, Badia-East, Isale-Akoka and Toluwani. The ten beneficiaries received the sum of Twenty Thousand Naira (N20, 000) each. This sum, repayable in three months at zero percent interest, would enable beneficiaries to grow their small businesses, enabling them to rise above systematic inequality.

A ten-woman monitoring committee, comprising the next batch of beneficiaries, was set up to follow up and monitor the progress of the women’s businesses periodically. The committee will also give periodic report to the Community Relation Officer and ensure that the monthly repayments are made according to schedule. To ensure the monies are applied to their intended purpose, SPACES FOR CHANGE | S4C and Zenith Bank Plc provided training support to CAD executives and member communities in diverse fields such as leadership, finance management, savings, and business plan development. S4C’s Executive Director, Victoria Ibezim-Ohaeri, urged the beneficiaries to make the most of the small loans they have received to improve their economic status and ensure they repay when as at when due.

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