Foundation For Women Liberia


Since 1997, the Foundation for Women (FFW) has served impoverished women locally and globally, first as a funder of microcredit programs and now as an operator. FFW programs help poor, entrepreneurial women who are in transition, at risk and in crisis improve life for themselves and their families by providing loans as small as $100 in Liberia or $250 in San Diego. These loans are accompanied by financial literacy and business skills education taught during weekly group sessions and in one-on-one meetings by qualified program staff. Modeled on the Grameen approach to microcredit, FFW’s programs recognize the strength of referrals and collective responsibility for loan repayment. In addition, FFW develops marketplaces and other sales avenues for their products and services, and recruits mentors to work with the women.

At the request of Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, FFW extends loans to a group of disabled men in addition to the established program for women. Loan groups, or Centers, are locally managed, with technical assistance, guidance and follow up provided by FFWL. The Centers serve an average of six groups of five borrowers. Each Center has a manager chosen by FFWL executive staff. The Center Manager oversees the collection of the loan repayment and savings and deposits them in the Eco Bank nearest the Center. These positions are part time and are reimbursed by FFWL. FFWL identifies the literate women in groups to train as teachers. Those local teachers are paid a stipend for their classes each week.

Since 2007, FFW Liberia (FFWL) has grown to 82 centers in 12 of the 15 counties across the country. From an initial group of five clients in 2007, FFWL now provides first time loans to

In three to five years, FFW aims to have the organizational capacity and loan funding needed to fulfill a much greater percentage of the need in each location. In San Diego, the objective is 6,800 new loans by the end of 2014. Efforts are well underway with the assistance of a multi-year capacity building grant. In Liberia, poverty is even more pervasive but microcredit has broader support, including from the government, all of which combined to create higher demand. In Liberia the objective will be to grow the microloan program to 11,376 loans under management by the end of 2014, a number hopefully exceeded substantially; the combination of volume, loan level and interest is projected to allow FFWL to become self-sustaining within three years, based upon a five year plan to meet the mission.
more than 2000 women members and the disabled. Second, third, and fourth time loans boost the membership to 3000 individuals. All FFWL centers are managed by the local recipients, 85% of whom are now able to write their own names on the 2nd cycle loan payment forms, as opposed to the thumb print often used to secure first cycle loans.

According to the Constitution and Bylaws of the Foundation for Women Liberia, the organization is governed by nine (9) Advisory board members of which presently seven (7) are women and two (2) men. It is also worth noting that three of the members of the Board are borrowers of FFW-L.  There are currently  (9) remunerated staff positions within the organization. The staff is comprised of theChief Executive Officer, Mrs. Emily Guegbeh Peal; Mr. David Beyan, Chief Officer Operations, Finance Assistant,Mrs. Anna Smith , Mr. Charles B. Naiwah, Program Officer and Assistant Program officer, Mr. Sylvester Thompson. Our support staff includes Program Monitors, Center Assistants, Regional Assistants and Interns.  In addition, our microcredit program consists of Center Managers, Center Chiefs, Center Secretary and Center Police who manage borrower groups in remote areas of the country. All are women.   See Annex 10 for more detailed organizational information.

Project Objectives and Expected Results

Problem Statement

Traditional cooking methods in Liberia and around sub-Saharan Africa involve cooking with solid fuels such as charcoal and wood in the three-stone fire, which produces a lot of smoke and Indoor Air Pollution (IAP).  It is estimated that over 1.6 million women and children die from IAP related illnesses each year.  Additionally, there are huge gender quality imbalances due to the fact that women do the majority of cooking in Liberia, spend great amounts of time collecting firewood on a daily basis, and even more time sitting around the cook fire preparing 2-3 meals a day.  Usually, their small children and babies accompany these women so that they can watch them while simultaneously conducting their chores.

Environmentally, the gathering of wood for fuel is contributing to deforestation.  Deforestation is responsible for 25% of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) annually and so decreasing the amount of deforestation will contribute to climate change mitigation strategies.

FFW Liberia understands the problem of women’s health, gender inequality, and environmental degradations such as deforestation and seek to combat these issues simultaneously by introducing a clean burning, highly efficient cookstove that reduces IAP by 80%, and reduces deforestation by 50%, while decreasing meal preparation times and the amount of fuel women need to collect.  These cookstoves alleviate poverty by allowing families to save 60% of their fuel costs each month, almost $120 USD per year in charcoal costs alone, and these savings empower women and increase gender equality by providing women with more free time and money.

Project Goal

FFW Liberia intends to distribute 700 highly efficient and clean burning cookstoves throughout Liberia by the end of FY12.  With the help of the UNDP SGP grant, FFW will be able to subsidize the cost of these stoves and make it possible for over 700 Liberian families to afford them.


Demonstrating the G3300 Wood Stove to FFWL in Brewerville

Project Objectives

FFWL will partner with the MOGD and the Women’s NGO Secretariat of Liberia to select 700 families in 20 – 30 communities to receive clean cookstoves at a subsidized cost. These cookstoves overwhelmingly benefit women:

  • The stoves use 50% less fuel (wood or charcoal), creating huge monetary and time savings for women and their families
  • The stoves are clean, with 80% less emissions, smoke, and particulates, creating immediate health benefits to women and the children who stay with them when they cook
  • The stoves decrease meal prep time by 40%
  • Women and children spend less time collecting wood or having to purchase charcoal
  • The average Liberian family will save over $120 USD per year in charcoal costs and another $60 or more in local stove replacement costs
  • The program will save over 10,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions in the cookstoves 5-year lifespan; improve the health of over 3500 lives; affect over 20 Monrovian communities; and create over 1,000 local and regional jobs[1].

Project Justification

FFWLs cookstove distribution project is the biggest-bang-for-your-buck development project in Liberia.  For a small cost, just $60 per cookstove, women and children’s health are protected from the horrific affects of Indoor Air Pollution from cooking with charcoal; poverty alleviation is contributed by the over 60% fuel and traditional stove replacement costs, over $120 USD per year per family; deforestation is reduced due to the over 50% efficiency of the stove; and climate change is mitigated by the savings over 2.86 tonnes of CO2 per stove per year[2].

Additionally, local and regional jobs are created creating economic development.  These goals and objectives fit squarely with Liberia’s Poverty Reduction Strategy Pillars, as well as stated goals of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Forest Development Agency’s National Forest Plan, and other multinational environmental sustainability plans and proposals.

Empowering women means empowering families; empowering families means empowering communities; empowering communities means empowering a nation.  FFW Liberia will contribute to this empowerment of women, communities, and the nation by purchasing and distributing these cookstoves throughout Liberia.  The focus on women’s empowerment is vital and women are primary stakeholders in this project, from President Sirleaf herself, to Anyaa Vohiri, Executive Director at the EPA, the Ministry of Gender Development’s Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Unit and their partners UN Women, the directors at our partner NGOs all the way down to the community leaders and women’s associations they lead.

[1] Based on 10,000 cookstoves distributed in a 5 year period.

[2] CH2200 Charcoal Cookstove

FFW Liberia is the Cookstove Liberia project coordinator and primary implementer.  With the aid of UNDP GEF-SGP funding, FFW Liberia will purchase 700 clean-burning Envirofit CH-2200 charcoal cookstoves from local distributor, SJEDI Green Energy at a cost of $60 per cookstove[1].

Envirofit International at the University of Colorado at Fort Collins, Colorado, USA, invented the Envirofit CH-2200 cookstove.  The cookstove is massed produced in Kenya in order to reduce the cost of each stove.  The cookstove is the world’s most efficient clean cookstove with USA patented technology.  The stove is inexpensive and durable, with a minimum lifespan of 5 years, a tremendously important achievement.  Envirofit offers a two-year warranty for the core of the cookstove, a first for Liberia in guaranteeing the quality of a product.

SJEDI Green Energy (SJEDI) is Envirofit’s West Africa distributor of the cookstove with an office at the Marketplace, Nelson & Carey Streets, Monrovia, Liberia.  This new and innovative business was selected as one of the first businesses to take part in the Liberia Business Incubator project, at the Marketplace.  SJEDI has sold over 1,000 cookstoves in Liberia to date.  Once FFW Liberia’s project has been funded, they will purchase the cookstoves directly from SJEDI who will put in a purchase order with Envirofit and production will begin on the 700 cookstoves for the project.  It will take approximately 10 weeks from order, manufacture in Kenya, to delivery to the port of Monrovia.

During the 10 weeks of production and transport, FFW Liberia, along with partner the MOGD will conduct IAP workshops with selected communities, conduct household fuel use surveys, conduct cookstove demonstration and maintenance training sessions, and establish EcoBank group accounts and mobile banking accounts.  This phase can occur simultaneously with project development and does not have to wait until purchase order.

The criteria for selecting the communities and families to receive the cookstove will be decided by FFW committee, however, generally the community will have a women association of 30 or more women, registered with the MOGD or Ministry of the Interior, and have a track record of community development and participating with women empowerment programs.  Fortunately, most of the FFW groups under FFW Liberia’s umbrella meet these requirements, so most probably communities in Monrovia, Ganta, and Buchanan will be the initial recipient.

Approximately 700 families will take part in the program.  Families will be selected by the FFW committee in close collaboration with the community’s women’s associations themselves but generally should be of medium-low income demographic, unable to afford the full price of $60 USD, and able to make the $5 dollar monthly payments for six months (easily achievable since the cookstoves generate savings of around $10 USD per month per family).  Families must agree to take part in household surveys prior to and after receiving the cookstove; they must agree to keep the cookstove in their home and not sell or give to another person (prevents “leakage” and satisfies warranty agreement); and must sign over the carbon rights of the stove to SJEDI Green Energy in exchange for receiving the cookstove at a subsidized price.

Once the cookstoves arrive in Monrovia, FFW Liberia and partners will distribute the cookstoves to the selected communities and families.  Community women group leaders of partner communities will collect the $5 USD per family each month, deposit into the EcoBank account, and EcoBank will transfer these funds into the Cookstove Trust Fund.  After six payments and six months, the program will be completed and all future savings will belong to individual families that own the stove.  These families will be encouraged to open individual savings account to place savings from using the cookstove into those interest-bearing accounts and grow their assets; a valuable poverty alleviation program.  Finally, FFW Liberia and partners will seek matching funds to grow the Trust fund, managed by the UNDP GEF-SGP, and scale-out the program to the next round of communities in order to replicate the success of the program.

[1] $60 USD is $25 wholesale, shipping, duty/tax/port fees (approx. 33% of cost of goods), transportation, operational costs such as equipment and facility (office & storage), staff compensation, $3 profit.  SJEDI hopes to register the project as “duty free” with NIC in order to reduce the 33% mark-up and lower price.


Emily Guegbeh Peal  – CEO Foundation For Women, Liberia

Emily holds a Master of Science in Forest Administration and Personnel Management and a Masters Degree and PhD in Human Resources Management from Michigan State University as well as Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Liberia. Since 2006, Emily has been the CEO of Foundation for Women Liberia and has grown the program to over 3,000 women receiving loans in Liberia from FFW. She is a native of Liberia., +231-6664-601


Deborah Lindholm – CEO, Foundation For Women Intl

Debora has more than 35 years experience in education, business and counseling settings helping people achieve their dreams and goals. She has been the recipient of a number of prestigious awards highlighting outstanding work in the non-profit sector. Deborah holds a master’s degree in counseling and education and her PhD work is in clinical psychology and she is a frequent speaker nationally and internationally regarding microcredit and the empowerment of women and girls.; +1 (858) 945-3426

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