In mid-November a clean-up exercise was organized by the women of the Bantama community who are members of the Social Capital Credits (SoCCs) groups created by Women’s Health to Wealth (WHW) in partnership with WomenStrong International (WSI). The clean-up was an example of the WHW’s and WSI’s activities focused on two of women’s 6 essential needs: economic empowerment and creating a functioning urban environment.
All of the SoCCs group women are market traders eager for their area to be more orderly, less dusty or garbage-ridden, and more attractive to shoppers, to improve their daily sales. Eighty women from Bantama’s three SoCCs groups participated in this exercise, which ran from 11:00am -1:30pm. Participants gathered at the Bantama Ebenezer Methodist Church, where their SoCCs meetings are usually held, and proceeded into the surrounding streets and pavements, where business activities were ongoing.
The clean-up focused on the vegetables and plantain section of the market, where a lot of rotten organic waste had heaped up. Surrounding areas where the women swept and tidied up the grounds included the church premises. The women earned between 10 and 20 SoCCs points for their efforts, depending on the extent of their participation as determined by their groups’ SoCCs managers, who determined that those who swept the church premises and other external surroundings without helping to remove the rotten waste heap would earn 10 points, while those who did both would earn 20. Each SoCCs group has its own menu for how these earned points can be spent; items range from making incremental improvements to their own market stalls (an extra table, or expanding the array of wares for sale) to paying the cost of a child’s school fees, and include other desired goods and services, all selected by the group members themselves.
Because the activity was organized on a very busy Wednesday morning, when market activity was at its peak, traders camped along the sidewalks were reluctant to let the energetic Bantama women sweep the pavement where they were conducting their business transactions. Nevertheless, the SoCCs women, sporting their WHW T-shirts, went about their business, without interfering with ongoing sales. Designed to help the program gain exposure, the WHW T-shirts came in handy, as many women were curious to know who these WHW cleaner-uppers were and what we were about.
The “social currency” of earning SoCCs enabled these conversations, which hopefully will attract more market women to come to WHW’s clinics to be screened, so that they can then be prequalified to enroll in WHW’s savings and SoCCs groups: “women’s health to wealth,” indeed!