Fidela Ebuk

Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 1993
Women's Health & Economic Development Assoc. of Nigeria


This profile was prepared when Fidela Ebuk was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1993.
The New Idea
Since the 1980s, microcredit explosion throughout the developing world, many have worked to scale up widespread African traditional local savings associations with mixed results. Fidela Ebuk has developed an original and effective approach that scales up women's savings through small-scale business credit, but with a distinctive twist. Fidela's savings and credit projects are geared heavily toward promoting community health. This health orientation anchors two fundamental dynamics of her approach. First, it provides the vision that unites the women around a community-wide objective (as distinct from the individual objective) at the core of the traditional savings group. Second, it contains a number of specific economic activities such as health insurance and bulk medicine purchasing that provide tangible benefits to individual members and communities almost immediately.
Fidela's approach is designed to spread throughout West Africa, where rural women have a long-demonstrated capacity to save and are often resentful of a succession of failed government development programs that they have been forced to finance through taxes on their savings. At the heart of Fidela's approach is a simple message: You can invest your savings to improve community health far more effectively than the government. Along with the message, she brings the know-how.
Under the banner of Fidela's organization, the Women's Health and Economic Development Association, aggregations of women's savings clubs have undertaken a wide range of health and income generating activities, including a sanitation campaign for cleaner latrines and kitchens, a coconut fiber workshop, a deworming project, a cassava processing venture, oral rehydration traning, a traditional weaving center, immunization campaigns, a soap-making enterprise, treatment of malaria and hypertension, body-cream manufacture and a mutual health insurance scheme.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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