WGEF is an exceptional organization for so many reasons. The model of micro-finance paired with literacy, leadership, and health training is effective and addresses more than just the "symptoms" of poverty. This model also allows women to decide HOW they are going to improve their lives by giving them the tools to feel empowered and important. This is the model that should be followed by every organization helping underserved communities - to let the PEOPLE speak for themselves. As an intern and volunteer of WGEF for many years, I was inspired to attend law school to address these and similar issues. WGEF touches on so many lives, both in northern Uganda and abroad, and has taught me the power of empowerment and togetherness.
Women's Global Empowerment Fund is a meaningful, thoughtful and multi-faceted approach to alleviating poverty and inequality and assisting in sustainable development. I've had the privilege to work alongside Founder and Director Karen Sugar, both as an intern and volunteer, and in doing so, I've witnessed the transformative effects of microfinance paired with educational and health programs. The women of Gulu are inspiring, intelligent and hard-working, and they act as a constant source of inspiration. Additionally, I've personally gained confidence through my experiences and opportunities with WGEF. This organization, in every way, is fighting for a healthy, thriving humanity and I can think of no greater cause. Thank you WGEF and Karen!
The fall of 2015 I was finally able to travel to WGEF's Gulu-based office, and I believe the way to convey my experience is through a journal entry I wrote while I was still in Uganda:
October 3, 2015
Today is the drama festival. I am so excited to finally experience the dances, traditions, and pride of so many women I met earlier this week. After watching their various plays and performances, one particularly struck me. The group presenting called themselves, “Women are the pillar,” and they were performing a drama supporting women in government. Their drama began with a scene where everyone was registering to vote, and soon afterwards, a female candidate was nominated for office. During the campaign rally, the male candidate promised clean water, education, and money. However, the female candidate promised education for girls so they can grow up to be leaders - she promised to be the voice of the women and girls of the Gulu district. At the end of the drama, the female candidate won. The other women on stage sing out, “Advocate for women to participate in leadership and vote!” I felt so invigorated after watching their drama. It made me happy to see the women actively involved and excited about women in civic participation.
At the end of the festival, I was in such a happy place. Sylvia, one of the women actively involved in WGEF initiatives, grabbed my hand and asked me to dance. We wandered into a group of cheering, joyful women and began to sway. Another group of women soon followed us, and they began shaking their hips and grabbed my hands high into the air. We laughed together and enjoyed the calm moment. I can honestly say I have never felt such acceptance in such a foreign place. Eventually, it was time to say goodbye. The women held me and told me to come back.
I want to come back. I want to come back to their courage, love, and resilience. Although I wasn’t here long, I have a lifetime of memories and amazing, inspiring experiences. Gulu will always have a special place in my heart.
Women's Global Empowerment Fund has shaped the way I act and perceive the world around me. I initially met Karen when I was only a sophomore in high school, and now I am a junior in college and I'm still gravitated towards the organization. I feel as though many non-profits aimed at improving the livelihood of individuals ignore the political aspect of change, but not WGEF. WGEF recognizes the importance of being involved with the local government and encourages her clients to not only start businesses, but also to start becoming politically active. I had the pleasure of meeting one of WGEF's clients when I first started volunteering, and now she has ran multiple times for government. I am in awe of the passion and strength Karen has brought to Gulu through WGEF, and I cannot wait to see what the future holds for the organization.
It's hard to believe that I started volunteering with Women's Global Empowerment Fund more than five years ago! During that time, I have met our amazing Program Director, Bukenya Muusa, and one of our clients, who is planning to run for Ugandan Parliament. The impact of Women's Global is truly inspiring!
I have been involved with Women's Global Empowerment Fund for about three years now. The most memorable experience I have had with the organization was getting to meet one of our clients from Gulu, Uganda. Grace is one of the most inspiring women I have ever had the privilege to meet. Her experience showed me that WGEF provides so much more than microfinance. Through the literacy and leadership development programs women are given the tools they need to be a part of important policy decisions in their country, and are creating lasting change. Women's Global has proven how a nonprofit can have a large and more importantly lasting impact on the world.
I began working with WGEF as an intern while an undergraduate at DU. After graduating I have continued to work with the organization because I truly believe in all the work that WGEF does. The impact that the organization has had in terms of my own empowerment and knowledge growth pales in comparison to the difference that WGEF is making on women locally and globally. I am so proud to work with such an amazing organization and group of people to empower my sisters around the world.
I have work for women's global empowerment fund for about 2 years and i have experience a lot as far as their contribution is concern to women especially in Gulu district, a lot of life changing experiences an i am so proud to work with women's global and i would like to appreciate so much mam Karen sugar for all the support
thank a lot
Am Kevin Okumu from Gulu in Northern Uganda, i came to know about Women Global empowerment Fund when i joined the organisation as a volunteer, And i have worked in their project for a year now. The great work of micro-credit lending has brought smiles on over 800 faces in my area. the first time i saw Karen Sugar is when she made an amazing presentation on creating voice for women and awarding the grass roots women, this has been my best experience ever Bottle of thanks to WGEF!
My time as an intern for Women's Global has been truly life changing. This organization provides the tools necessary to strengthen the skills, knowledge and confidence of women who have survived unimaginable hardship. The strategies employed by WGEF are impactful and influential in economic, social and political realms of life. By providing just a chance, an opportunity for women to reach their full potential, WGEF has enabled the beauty and ability that is ingrained in every woman to come forth and potentially change the developmental path of Uganda.
Not only has this organization provided opportunities for women in norther Uganda, but it has also provided opportunities for women like me, who seek a deeper understanding of the workings of the world and who wish to positively impact others. I have witnessed the power of entrepreneurialism, opportunity and education in post-conflict regions. I have discovered the potential for sisterhood and female solidarity to challenge the institutions that continue to perpetuate unequal and unjust political, economic and social systems. I have learned that often, all women need is a chance to use their inherent skills, creativity and intelligence to make profound changes in their lives and the lives of their children. Further, I have learned about the logistical intricacies of the non-profit world and the realistic impact of grassroots volunteerism.
Women's Global, Karen Sugar and the women of Gulu, Uganda have inspired me to believe in myself and to believe in the power of the human spirit. It is through this human spirit that we will ever be able to address the daunting developmental obstacles that lay ahead.
Review from Guidestar
I have worked with WGEF since the start, though initially I knew very little of microfinance and post-conflict Uganda. As someone who has witnessed the incredible growth of such an organization, it is a pleasure to share my dedication to the WGEF team and their mission. Karen Sugar, founder and executive director of WGEF), is an incredible leader who saw an opportunity to create positive change for not only her now-female clients but also the Gulu, Uganda community as a whole. Karen's in-depth research of a post-conflict region only propelled her forward, over coming many obstacles, to give these women a chance and an opportunity for monetary and food security for their families, an education and the belief that everyone deserves the right to chase dreams and conquer goals. To say WGEF has made leaps and bounds since the start is an understatement but all challenges have been met with a passion to create a voice for women all over not just in Uganda. And through this organization, thousands of people have had the opportunity to learn more about microfinance; such a simple solution for supporting those in need. I strongly believe WGEF is still just getting its start in changing lives and developing stronger communities. The future is very bright for this nonprofit. Thanks for your interest and please continue to explore this stellar organization at www.wgefund.org
I have had the incredible opportunity to be a part of this organization when it was just an idea, a small thought in the back of Karen Sugar's brillant mind. With a lot of drive, research, love, and hope, let me tell you, WGEF has made amazing strides not only on the ground in Northen Uganda but to educate people on the benefits of microfinance and the oppotunities that come when women are given the chance to make a better life for themselves and their famililes. From the start, like any greta nonprofit, there have been bumps in the road, but Karen's clear vision for WGEF, understanding of the region and the need's of the Northern Uganda community has allowed her and her team to persevere. With a zero loan default rate, booming business ideas, healthier home lives and, WGEF client's running for political office it is safe to say that this organization is creating amazing possibilities for the women of Northern Uganda.
Akello Beatirice is a single mother of seven living in Gulu, Uganda. Like many other women in her community, Akello still feels the lasting effects that ongoing conflict has inflicted on her community. Abducted at the age of six, Akello spent several years in the hands of the Lord’s Resistance Army before being returned to her community parentless and alone. For the years that followed, Akello continued to suffer under the hands of a drunk and abusive husband plagued with feelings of hopelessness and low self-esteem. These are the challenges facing many women currently living in Uganda. Marred by a history of trauma and facing economic hardships and oppression, these women seem to be fighting and uphill battle. However, it is not these hardships that Women’s Global Empowerment Fund chooses to focus on in their work to address poverty and the marginalization f women in Uganda. Taking a strengths based approach in their programming, WGEF puts emphasis not on the hardships facing these women, but rather on the potential of women as natural leaders in their communities. The results are stunning.
WGEF employs a clever combination of microfinance loans and social programming in their Credit Plus program as they work to help the intelligent and powerful women of Uganda realize their potential. In small groups, women borrow money to fund projects and business ventures toward which they already have an affinity. Through this program, Akello chose to borrow money to invest in a live stock project whose profits are now being used to support her family and send her children to school. In addition to these loans, women are offered access to a variety of social programs including literacy, leadership development and basic business classes. Looking at these programs through the lens of empowerment theory offers exciting insight into how WGEF women are able to work toward self-efficacy to regain power and control over their own lives.
Of vital importance in the quest for self-efficacy is the use of critical consciousness to determine ones place within an existing structure of power and oppression and push back in favor of a more equitable system. Through their Access to Justice initiative, WGEF helps women to define the gender discrimination inherent in the current justice system, as well as teaching them grassroots strategies to advocate for changes that will better provide for them and their families. Many women are then able to use these skills and knowledge as a gateway to political involvement, acting as leaders in their community to hold their government accountable for its actions. On a mezzo level, WGEF trainings in Gender Based Violence allow women to identify and fight back against power dynamics within their own families. When paired with the economic security reaped from participation in the Credit Plus Program, this knowledge allows women to make changes in their own lives, with many now finding themselves in a position of autonomy that conflict, oppression and unequal distribution of power have long deprived them of.
I strongly believe in the work being done by WGEF and feel that, by addressing the needs of both the individual and society, WGEF is posturing these communities for sustainable growth. It is an exciting time to be involved with WGEF and I encourage anyone interested in microfinance or women’s empowerment to learn more about their work.
I have worked with Women's Global Empowerment Fund for a year and a half now and continue to be inspired every day by the amazing work of both Karen Sugar, as well as every single client in Gulu, Uganda. The organization is truly breaking the mold of the traditional aid model by representing these women as the strong and capable women that they are, instead of viewing them only as victims of past tragedies. WGEF is so much more then just a micro-ledning organization, through the Credit-Plus program women are going back to school, participating in Leadership Development training, and securing themselves a seat at the policy table. This organization has far exceeded my expectations of what a nonprofit can accomplish, and I stand behind all the work that Karen has done, and will continue to do for many years.
Women's Global Empowerment Fund is an absolutely inspirational organization, dedicated to helping the women of Gulu, Uganda pull themselves out of poverty, and place themselves at an equal level in the playing field. After seeing and talking to Grace, a client in Gulu, I have a greater respect and understanding for the powerful changes this organization can make in these women's lives. The organization is not just about micro-loans and finances, Grace continually talks about how the peer counseling program that was set up alongside the education and literacy programs have truly changed her. These programs which go alongside the loans, are what have enabled Grace to become a true leader in her community, allowing her to support four children, go back to school, have three business, and be elected for local governance in Gulu. That is just one success story, and the organization has more than 3000 women just like Grace, who just needed support to help them realize their undeniable potential.