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A big factor in Egypt’s orphan issue is that when a family loses the father, they’re sunk. Traditions do not usually give a widowed mother the opportunity to be able to earn money to support her family. In fact, widows wear black and stay at home, out of the way.

Last year we launched a new micro-credit project for widowed mothers in Egypt. We called it B’edaya, Arabic for “with my own hands.” The goal? Give widowed mothers with children in our flagship program Not Alone ideas, interest-free loans, and training so they can start projects to help their families become financially independent.

The first results are in.

We had workshops in key areas for our families, and asked mothers to come to us with good ideas in the areas of Egypt where widows are having it the hardest. We got 116 applications, and chose 74 pilot projects that we thought would do well.

99.3% of the loans got repaid in full. Only two mothers didn’t fully repay, and only because we told them to keep their last payments because they lost some of the animals they were raising to breed and sell.

And the profit was good. These 74 women made 139,486 Egyptian pounds in profit over the year, an average of $320 US Dollars. Compare that to what most Egypt widows live on from poor areas with their meager government widow pension.

But the best part is that these women did it all themselves, and 100% of the profits got reinvested into their new businesses, or into their families’ needs like education and health.

Next year, we hope to:

  • expand the project to more women,
  • give them more time to build their businesses,
  • and give them more specialized training.

Find out more in the full report here.