Since our first $95,000 loan to Gumutindo in 2005, Root Capital has lent the enterprise more than $9 million and seen the organization triple its number of farmer suppliers and quadruple payments to farmers. But Gumutindo’s impact goes much deeper than that: one of the long-term investments that Gumutindo’s growth has enabled is the founding of a savings and credit cooperative for local women.
Every Tuesday morning, dozens of women contribute 500 shillings (about 50 cents) to their personal savings accounts and another 500 shillings to an endowment fund for their children’s elementary school. Half of the students of the school are orphans — and, tragically, all of the women in the savings group are HIV-positive. For these women, the school, with its focus on embracing orphans, is their greatest hope for their children to be cared for and educated if they die.
There’s a popular East African song called “Todii” which shares a conversation between a man and woman as they are dying of AIDS. The chorus asks “Aye, Todii, what shall we do?”
They’re doing something about it at Gumutindo. The women farmers living with HIV-AIDS have seen substantial income improvements, allowing them to save for the future and prepare their children for a better life, even if they are gone.
More than any other group of people on earth, the world’s poor are deeply vulnerable to diseases like HIV/AIDS. Today, we salute Gumutindo and other small and growing businesses that are improving livelihoods and securing the futures of farm families around the world.