Sisters’ of Notre Dame de Namur Micro Lending Program Flourishes in Africa

When women in rural Nigeria apply for small business loans from the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, they find that the seed money for their home-grown sewing or crafts business comes with strings attached.
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Micro Lending
Impoverished Women
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Notre Dame Sisters


Ipswich - Massachusetts - US

Feb. 25, 2013 - PRLog -- Ipswich, Mass. Many development experts insist that micro lending to women living in extreme poverty is counterproductive.  The Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur have witnessed firsthand that a sudden influx of cash – no matter how minimal – to impoverished, uneducated women in male-dominated cultures can fall prey to being mishandled or wrested away.  That’s why the Sisters designed an innovative program to increase chances for entrepreneurial success and personal empowerment of impoverished women.  

Located in rural Nigeria, the Sisters’ Sunflower Women Self-Help Association is comprised of a micro lending arm as well as an educational component. The educational curriculum addresses gender inequality, health issues, sexual violence and climate change in addition to such practical issues as sound financial management and business practices. Impoverished women interested in applying for a micro loan from the Sisters are first required to complete the educational component.

“These women’s lives are fraught with complexity,” says Sister Leonore Coan, Director of Mission Support. “It’s our job to educate them about potential financial pitfalls and naïve business assumptions. Otherwise, we would only be lending  them money they can never hope to pay back.”

Since 2002, the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur have been assisting impoverished women in Nigeria as well as other African nations in their efforts to launch small businesses from their homes. In addition to sewing and laundry businesses, women typically establish cooking or cleaning enterprises or engage in the cooperative production of indigenous arts and crafts for a larger market.

A micro candle-making or sewing business in an underprivileged  community can make a real difference to a woman’s self-esteem, her family’s financial health and community well-being. That’s why the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur are dedicated to educating and supporting impoverished women around the globe.

For a more in-depth look at the Sisters’ micro lending program for impoverished women, visit:

Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur are an international Congregation of women religious, founded by St. Julie Billiart (1751-1816) in Amiens, France in 1804.  The Congregation is committed to making known God’s goodness through education in a variety of ministries. Sisters serve on five continents: Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and North America, and work to change lives by a “fundamental commitment to stand with our sisters and brothers who live in poverty and accompany them in their struggle.” Offices/centers are located in Rome, ITALY, Namur, BELGIUM and Ipswich, MA, USA.  Visit our web site at
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Tags:Micro Lending, Nigeria, Impoverished Women, Home Businesses, Notre Dame Sisters
Industry:Loans, Non-profit
Location:Ipswich - Massachusetts - United States
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