WISE in brief

The Organization for Women in Self Employment (WISE) was established in September 1997, with the support of ActionAid and commenced full programme operation in January 1998. WISE is dedicated to the elimination of the facets of urban poverty and the realization of sustainable livelihoods among poor women. The Organization is currently working with poor self- employed women and girls in Addis Ababa in their efforts to achieve self-reliance and improve the quality of their lives by drawing on empowering, development oriented strategies. Accordingly, WISE’s areas of intervention include building the capacity of women micro and small entrepreneurs through creating access to both financial and non-financial services.

WISE offers its services with its driving motto of ‘Money is Power’. Thus, the main aims of its program are to promote sustainable income among the target women and girls and to enable them create job opportunities for themselves and others.

Since establishment, WISE has availed its services to over 40,000 women and girls and 850 weavers’ households in Addis Ababa. These women and girls are organized in savings and credit cooperatives and obtain micro-finance services. Moreover, in order to enhance their business enterprises, they are offered different trainings in the area of business/ entrepreneurship, leadership, health, literacy and numeracy and life skills. In addition to these women and girls, over 30,000 women and men have received the services of WISE through 240 organizations that have similar objectives and work in different parts of the country.

WISE has recorded remarkable achievements in the development of women micro-enterprise operators. In addition to creating 85 savings and credit cooperatives, an umbrella financial institution of the cooperatives has been established to ensure the sustainability of services when WISE ceases direct support to the cooperatives. Through the provision of financial services, the target women and girls were able to initiate or expand their preferred lines of micro-enterprises operation. A total loan of close to Birr 400 million has been disbursed through the cooperatives and Union for the purpose of running businesses, making down-payments for condominium housing units and covering children’s school costs. Moreover, various business development services have been offered to these women and girls. Assessments show that over 82% of the target community asserts their success in business and life. While all make weekly savings with their institutions, some have been able to open bank accounts and buy shares. There are many who have made poverty history in their family, while some have been able to transform their businesses from micro to small-scale enterprises. As an organization, WISE stood first in a competition organized by CCRDA (umbrella of 350 NGOs) in Urban Poverty Reduction in 2012.

WISE continues its services through grants from donors and internal income generated from various services. WISE is open to new ideas and partnerships with private, governmental, and non-governmental organizations to enhance its services to poor, enterprising women and girls in Ethiopia.