2022 impact summary

Impact summary 2022: Thousands of women supported, and post-Covid recovery
May 2023

2022 was quite the year. We were able to slowly get out of Covid-crisis mode (in 2020-2021, we had to rapidly switch to providing emergency food aid and dealing with mass defaults and loan restructuring among the women we work with) and focus on recovery. Recovery meant: disburse microcredits to women who needed to get back on their feet, helping them to rebuild their businesses.

Perhaps first off, some numbers. We ended up disbursing 3,576 microcredits in 2022: all to women who use these small loans (average $215) to start or expand little businesses that can support their families. In total, we disbursed $770,486; much of which has already been repaid and disbursed again. Our total repayment rate remains high at 95.5%. We did have to write off 5 microcredits; in each case because the woman who held the loan died (often of preventable causes; we’re looking into how we can do more to help on the medical front).

With numbers like those, it’s easy to forget that behind each of these thousands of microcredits, there’s a phenomenal story. Take for example Stella Guhirwa: who applied with SYPO for a microcredit only a year ago to start a fish trading business—with the aim to take care of her 7 grandchildren. Stella was born in the village of Luzira. Her parents didn’t have money for her education, and she ended up getting married at 16. With her husband, she moved out to an island in Lake Victoria, and had 6 children. Her husband drowned in a fishing accident when the kids were still young—and Stella tried to keep her children in school and still make ends meet. That didn’t work: she couldn’t afford tuition, her daughters married in their teens and her sons went into fishing—the two fates she dreaded for them most. She’s now determined to not let the same thing happen to her grandchildren. She’s able to make enough profit with her fish business to pay for the schooling of the grandchildren. She plans to apply for a larger microcredit after this one—to expand the business. Stella is tremendously proud of the role she’s now able to play for the next generation.

All microcredits were disbursed to women, the poorest of the poor in remote areas of Central Uganda, and 100% of them were disbursed through ‘mobile money’: sent directly to simple phones that most families have and repaid from there as well. Mobile money decreases costs for the women and for us and is a lot safer than having to travel around with cash. It also simplifies administration: the women made around 160,000 repayments on their loans in 2022!

Our objective is to help the poorest of the poor in remote areas, where normal financial services are not available. In 2022, our team of 13 talented Ugandan women disbursed microcredits and collected repayments in 16 ‘mobile centers’ and a network of simple field offices. This way, we can reach women who never before had access to any financial services—a root cause of their being stuck in a ‘poverty trap’. Some of these mobile centers are in fishing villages on the shores of Lake Victoria, others are under a mango tree in front of the home of one of the women we work with. At these mobile centers, our team trains new groups (the women borrow microcredits in groups of 5, responsible for each other’s repayments), inspect their business plans, and disburse funds directly to the phones.

Proud and hopeful
With the years in “crisis mode” hopefully behind us, 2023 is going to be focused on growth to more women that need our help. We’ll also focus on being able to cover our operational cost better. Our aim is to pay for all of SYPO’s operating cost (the team in Uganda, the IT costs, etc.) with interest paid by the women on their microcredits, so that we can always keep helping more women. But in the last few years of hardship, that has not been possible. By disbursing more microcredits and by cutting some costs, we hope to get there again in 2023. This includes not hiring to replace two colleagues who moved on to different jobs in 2022, reducing our spend on transport, and renegotiating our mobile money contracts. We’ve also increased the interest charged on microcredits. With these measures, we hope to ensure that 100% of any donations to SYPO is used directly to disburse more microcredits, to help more women—not to cover any costs.

Looking back to the growth since our start in 2011, I’m tremendously proud of our team: we’ve disbursed $8.1 million in 33,864 microcredits, all to the poorest of the poor. We’ve helped thousands of women work for a better future and grow their business over time! We stuck together in the hardest of times, when one of our team members lost a parent to Covid, many of the women we work saw their businesses collapse under lockdowns, and harvests rotted on the farms because of unusually heavy rains. SYPO stuck with them through it all; we stuck with them through it all. I’m looking forward to reaching even more women and helping them help themselves through entrepreneurship in many years to come.

Milly Naggayi
Chief Operating Officer

Your support needed for 2023
2023 is an important year. After weathering Covid and all the challenges since 2020, we are now focused on giving out enough microcredits to help women back on their feet. To achieve this in 2023, we still need about $30,000. Please consider making a one-off or monthly donation through our website. In the US, we are a 501c3 nonprofit to which donations are tax deductible. The same is true in the Netherlands. Your funds are used directly to disburse more microcredits—with $215 we can help a woman entrepreneur start or expand a business and work towards a better future for herself and her family. 100% of your donation will be used to disburse microcredits to more women!

Thank you for your support,

Duko Hopman