Madame Djalla Brigitte, Benin
Madame Djalla Brigitte’s story of community leadership is inspiring. She is 37 years old, married and mother to one girl. She lives in Kissamey, in the Aplahoué community in Benin. Prior to her participation with The Hunger Project, she was working on a small-scale farm with her husband. She first become involved during one of our Vision, Commitment and Action Workshops (VCAW).
Madame Djalla is now president of the Kissamey Epicentre’s Microfinance Programme Committee and has been since 2004. As such, she leads 17 women’s groups in the epicentre. She is literate and has developed a system that allows her to fulfill her duties of giving loans to women’s groups and ensuring the recovery of those loans on their due dates. She developed a tool by which she monitors all the loans allocated to women’s groups. From the day following the loan disbursal, she visits all 12 epicentre partner villages to meet credit recipients in person and collect information on how the credit is being used.
A month later, she goes back to the credit recipients to assess progress made in carrying out the activity for which the loan had been received. Two weeks before the first reimbursement deadline, she returns, to draw women’s group leaders’ attention to the forthcoming deadline and invite them to pay on the due date. Madame Djalla has always achieved 100 percent loan repayment from women’s groups under her leadership.
On a personal level, she receives credit like any other member of the group. She carries out three activities with this financial support:
- Buying maize in times of abundance and selling it at a higher price during lean seasons;
- Buying maize at a low price in a market and selling it the next day in another market at a higher price; and
- Farming maize and beans to cater for demands in the market.
She makes consistent revenues from those activities to cater for her needs and those of her family. This allows her to pay for her children’s schooling, afford regular meals for all the family, and provide decent clothing for her family, including outfits for special occasions. Her deep ambition is to lead more women to a better social status so that they may better influence decision-making at the local government level.
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