Nike Foundation: From Loans to Learning

Zimbabwe SILC

Patience Muganiwa joined a Savings and Internal Lending Community run by Catholic Relief Services in her village. Now, she has enough money to attend school regularly. Photo by Melita Sawyer/CRS

Catholic Relief Services is improving the lives of adolescents in Rwanda and Zimbabwe. The Nike Foundation provided funding for CRS to study the impact of the programs on the lives of adolescent girls in the countries. This is part three in a four-part series about these programs.

By Patrick Carney

Patience could not afford to go to school. She didn’t have enough money for school fees or a uniform so she was turned away and sent home.

Without an education or a trade, she had little hope for a future of anything but poverty. Then she found out about a Savings and Internal Lending Community (SILC) run by Catholic Relief Services in her village. The program brings people together to save, manage their finances and provide members of their community with loans, but this group was different: They allowed adolescent girls to participate in this program typically reserved for adults.

Patience got a loan from her SILC group and began her own business raising chickens. She was able to repay her loan and use her profits to pay school fees so she could complete her education.

Incorporating adolescent girls into these programs helps to increase the number of people who complete their education, improves their math and problem solving skills and increases self-confidence. After missing weeks of classes, Patience is attending school regularly and is on track to finish her education.

Patrick Carney is an associate web producer, writer and editor for Catholic Relief Services. He is based at CRS headquarters in Baltimore, Maryland.

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