The impetus to establish WDB followed the 9 August 1991 meeting of women from small developmental organizations; business; legal and social services who discussed the need to develop an instrument that would ensure that women and poor rural communities benefit from the political and economic changes that were taking place at the dawn of democracy. The newly established democratic State of South Africa was faced with very high levels of poverty, especially among women in rural areas. There was also the need to empower women in general to become agents of their own destiny.
WDB Trust is a replicator of Grameen Bank that was started by Professor Muhammad Yunus in Bangladesh in 1976. The primary objective of our Siyakhula Micro Finance Institution (Siyakhula MFI) is to provide developmental micro finance to poor rural women in order to bring them into the mainstream economy. One of the innovations is not to demand financial collateral but instead using social collateral. Siyakhula MFI clients become active participants in the development of their families and communities; they build community cohesion; support each other and ensure the repayment of loans.
The Women in Development Consortium (Pty) Ltd was registered in 1992 to provide developmental micro finance services to poor rural women. WBD Charitable Trust was established in 1996 to ensure good governance. WDB Investment Holdings (Pty) Ltd, a private limited liability company, was established in 1997 to generate funds for WDB to enable the WDB Trust to achieve its objectives of uplifting poor rural women and communities. This was also to ensure long-term sustainability of WDB Trust by become less reliant on donor funding.
Resilience, agility and adaptability are the strengths that have stood us in good stead to adapt to the changing socio-economic environment in our country. Over the years we have reviewed our model and methodology as the need arose. In 2012 we decided to modernise our micro finance programme to be in line with changes in technology and become more efficient.
In 2013 we incorporated two sites of the Development Caravan, a programme initiated by our sister organization, the South African Women in Dialogue (SAWID) to enhance our non-financial service offerings. The synergy between WDB Trust and SAWID made it easy for WDB to adapt the methodology of the SAWID Development Caravan to become the WDB Zenzele Development Programme. We are currently in discussions with Ponahalo De Beers Trust to incorporate another SAWID Development Caravan site in Viljoenskroon.
In 2015 we established the WDB Developmental Training Academy to build skills in communities in which we serve and therefore ensure higher impact of our programmes.