ERuDeF’s Centre for the Advancement of Women’s Initiatives (CAWI), created some 10 years ago, has a new programme called the Economic Recovery Fund. This fund is the brainchild of CAWI with a vision of empowering displaced women, by supporting them through economic recovery programs.
With the current Anglophone Crisis in Cameroon, hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced from their homes. It is saddening to note that among this great number, the most vulnerable and affected are women and girls. They have not only lost their husbands, but their children as well. Some of them are also raped and brutalized.
As a result of this sad reality, CAWI thought of a scheme which could be sustainable and helpful to the IDPs. This led to the creation of the CAWI ECONOMIC RECOVERY FUND (CERF), a scheme which will avail them with livelihood opportunities, that is providing them with fishing waters, from where they can fish every other day, rather than giving them fish that would be consumed just once. It was in this light that, a revolving fund was created in October 2019 to provide start-up capital, to Internally Displace Persons ( IDPs) for small business ventures.
Beneficiaries of this fund are selected from the IDPs data base, that has been constituted progressively by CAWI agents and these individuals are invited to fact finding meetings. Here, they indicate their on- going businesses or choose their businesses of interest and CAWI studies the feasibility. And when feasibility is ascertained, the required capital is made available to the IDPs, under a strict and legal document.
Furthermore, regular monitoring and evaluation visits to the various business sites are done, to assess the success and impact of the activities, on the lives of the beneficiaries. At the end of a specific duration agreed upon between the beneficiaries and CAWI, the former reimburse the capital free off interest after accumulating enough profits to enable the continuation of their businesses.
So far, this project has been supported by the Net Positive Impact Project, led by Olivier Behra. This organization donated the sum of 1,167,622FCFA (1,780 Euros) into the fund.
With this support, CAWI has been able to reach out to many female IDPs in diverse economic activities. Some of these activities included soap production, poultry farming, restaurant business, foodstuff sales, cosmetics, firewood sales etc.
The impact of this Economic Recovery Fund has been far-reaching. The livelihoods of these women and girls have tremendously improved, as they can confidently provide food, shelter and other basic necessities for their families from the proceeds of their businesses. Some of them testify making a daily profit of FCFA 5000. Others like soap producers and poultry farmers don’t only sell out their produce but equally benefit consuming their own products. In all, over 100 women have so far benefited from this scheme.
We look forward to having more supporters and funders into the Project, so as to impact many more lives, for it is our greatest wish to reach out to more IDP women as many keep knocking on our doors for help.