In keeping with Omega tradition, our Christmas gift this year goes to those who really need it. For the second year in a row, the Omega team will contribute to helping women in the poor and embattled Congo.
Instead of giving gifts to employees, Omega gives a donation to those who need our help the most. Like last year, our gift of NOK 500 000 is earmarked for the CARE organization’s work with girls and women in Congo.
“CARE is one of the world’s biggest nonprofit organizations and is behind the implementation of this micro-finance method, established to help poor women in Congo in becoming economically independent. We have chosen to support this project because we see that it gives people in poor countries the opportunity to be more independent and therefore secures children a solid and safe future. Via Omega’s gift, all employees are involved in helping women gain the financial skills they need to support their families with food, healthcare services and education for their children,” says Aslaug Østrem Nesheim, Manager for Omega’s Service Center.
The local CARE savings and loan groups in the towns of Congo have weekly meetings, where the participants exchange experiences, put money up for saving and receive the opportunity to take out a loan. Among those who recently received the opportunity to make a new and more independent life for themself is mother of eight, Mwamini Mbumbu.
Mbumbu is 45 years old, has four daughters and four sons and is a member of the local savings and loan group in Munigi. Her husband is sick and the responsibility for her family, which also includes money for education for one of her daughters and two of her sons, rests on her.
Mbumbu took advantage of the opportunity that the savings and loan groups provided for the women in the village and received a loan to enhance the production on her farm. The loan has given her the opportunity to grow her faming business; she rented more soil, increased her production and has created jobs for the more than 20 people that now work on her farm. She now sells palm oil and beans, which provides her with money to repay the loan.
CARE’s savings and loan groups now have an important role in the towns where they have been established. They operate as local saving banks, owned and run by the participants of the group. The majority of the members in the savings and loan groups are women.
“This project is especially directed towards women as it is important to give them the opportunity to take a more active role in resource management and contribute to development in the local community, while maintaining a sense of equality,” says Helene Hansson, Corporate Manager in CARE Norway.
The savings and loan groups give more people the opportunity to learn to read, write and do mathematics. In addition to this, the participants learn about farming methods, product development, marketing and the rights women have in relation to their husbands, their local leaders and the authorities.
“We do not give money directly to the groups, but train them in managing and organizing a savings bank with insurance options and the opportunity to take up a loan. These actions provide results that last. When these women become financially secure, they have more time to learn how to earn a living and discuss common problems. The meetings in the CARE savings and loan groups also provide members with the opportunity to ask questions about difficult topics, like sexual violence and maternal health,” says Hansson.