In 2007 and 2008, I made several trips to Ghana to document a microfinance operation in Pokuase, a small town approximately one hour outside the capital of Accra. I wanted to see for myself if microfinance offered a possible solution--a pathway out of the endless cycle of poverty and hardship. WomensTrust, a microfinance operation founded by Dana Dakin, afforded me the opportunity to document their projects. Over 2,200 loans totaling nearly $200,000 have helped more than 1,000 women expand their businesses. Women receive loans for providing baked goods and bread, preparing cooked food and drinks, sewing clothing, selling charcoal, and offering hair styling services.
At first glance, the economy of Pokuase appears to be essentially based on barter. But the process of receiving a loan and paying it back has a profound psychological impact. The small loans that these women receive allow them to grow their businesses, and the difference between earning $2 a day and $2.50 to $3.00 a day can be enormous. However, the most important impact of WomensTrust is providing a sense of hope and confidence to the loan recipients.