Women saw the impact that saving for health expenses could have on their and their children’s health – and they wanted to do more.
In Boulkassoumbougou, a peri-urban community in Bamako, we have been working with savings groups for several years. In one particularly dedicated group, all the women happen to be widows. Like other women in their community, they have limited opportunities – but they also do not have a husband to provide an income to their family. Though many are older women, all of them had children in their homes to care for.
A few years ago, as we were discussing their group’s accomplishments and challenges, the President stood up and eloquently spoke on behalf of her group:
“The money that Mali Health helps us to set aside and use to improve health is wonderful and has helped us. But we have so little to save. Wouldn’t it be great if you could help us not only to save money, but to earn it as well?”
Indeed it would, and so we did. Women in peri-urban communities are ready to lead and they are ready to build better futures.
With the income from their cooperatives, women are investing in their families, using the proceeds to keep their children healthy by preventing and treating illnesses, and they are sending them to school.
HOW THEY WORK
There are now six cooperatives up and running in three communities: Kalabambougou, Boulkassoumbougou and Sabalibougou. To further improve health in peri-urban communities, they are producing health-promoting products like soap, peanut butter, and value-added agricultural products.
After training in small business skills, cooperative management, and their trade of choice, we provide the equipment and initial materials women need to launch their cooperatives.
In the long-term, our goal is to help women form and lead an association that will be a resource for supporting their cooperatives, while also helping other groups of women in savings groups to launch their own cooperatives.
Take a closer look :
The dream of the group of mothers in Boulkassoumbougou is now a reality. This is their cooperative – Coopérative Nièta des femmes Productrices de Pâte d’Arachide de Boulkassoumbougou. They are up and running, producing and selling peanut butter. Peanut butter supports health because it provides undernourished children with an important nutritional supplement.
And this is just the beginning. The group would like to buy their own mill to lower the cost of processing their peanuts and to have another source of revenue from milling other producer’s goods.
Across town, in Kalabambougou, another cooperative – Coopérative Kotognontala des femmes Productrices de Savon de Kalabambougou – has started making soap. They make several varieties, like large, round balls of all-purpose soap which they sell at an affordable price to other mothers in their community – making a very valuable resource available locally. They also have a line of body soaps that use the natural strengths of raw ingredients like carrots, honey, green clay and henna.
of women are regularly using preventive health measures
average monthly income, up from $18 at baseline
of women have funds to pay for healthcare when needed
increase in children enrolled in school
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