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Local woman proves there is hope for all of us

Editor’s Note: This is a part of a collection of stories SDNN will publish throughout the month of March to celebrate Women’s History Month. Join us as we recognize Women’s History Month by sending in your stories too and checking SDNN every day for stories from other women in our region. Happy Women’s History Month!

Over 2.8 billion people worldwide live in poverty, according to the United Nations. One woman and her organization are slowly changing that figure though.

About a year and a half ago I was introduced to an organization based in San Diego, The Women’s Global Network (WGN). At first glance, it seemed like just another organization to meet professionals and give back to the community, but after much exploration, this organization, and its founding owner, Linda Lattimore, has had a strong impact on my life and the life of over 100 women across the globe.

Throughout history, women have struggled to rise above adversity to fight for their rights. Thanks to these past advocates we are fortunate enough to do just about anything we wish including attending college, obtaining start-up loans, and starting our own businesses. While we have come a long way, women in both the U.S. and other countries have not been awarded the same luxuries.

Seeing this, Linda strove to develop an organization focused on assisting these women in need. On a local level, Linda and the members of WGN have developed mentoring programs to help young women and women starting businesses. These women are paired up in teams of two, one seasoned member of business, and one woman starting a business, or in the process of a career change. This program has assisted many women in starting businesses and in growing their business.

Surprisingly, through this program, Linda has uncovered that many of the seasoned mentors have benefited from this mentoring partnership as much as the mentors have.

“Until participating in this experience, I had no expectation that this program would add to my own life and business. Through my mentee, I have gained valuable exposure to new forms of business development including social networking,” she said.

To date, this program has had an impact on more than 30 women. Another program, the Global Business Partners, have sponsored over 75 women and their businesses.

This month, Linda and members of WGN, raised funds to sponsor Leonilla Johni in Bukoba, Tanzania. Leonilla is 52 years old and has eight children, five of whom still live with her, and two grandchildren. Leonilla sells fried bananas and because of Linda, she can now buy a bicycle so that she can sell the bananas at the market. She also has two pigs and hopes to use some of the funds to improve the diets of the pigs and perhaps buy more pigs. Leonilla marks the 71st woman sponsored through the program.

It has been observed that giving women the control and the responsibility of small loans raises their socio-economic status, which is seen as a positive change to many of the current relationships of gender and class. Loans to women tend to more often benefit the whole family as they allow mothers to feed, clothe and educate their children.

Through Linda’s efforts and the efforts of the members of WGN, Linda hopes to aid in the reduction of poverty by helping women cross the socio-economic and educational barriers. Through the programs Linda has developed, I believe anything is possible. I am looking forward to seeing just how many more women Linda can assist throughout her lifetime and hope that I can follow in her footsteps to continue to contribute to the lives of others creating history.

Jackie Weitzberg is the president of Guide My Finances.