The Kora Fund issued its first loan to an Ebeye woman as part of its official launch for Kwajalein Atoll last week.
A team of Kora (women’s) Fund and Bank of Marshall Islands officials went to Ebeye for the launch and to run a series of informational and training sessions about the new loan program.
The launch was held at Mon LaMike last Thursday and featured a blessing by Rev. Lawson Matauto, and remarks from Iroojlaplap and Nitijela Member Mike Kabua, Kwajalein Mayor Hirata Kabua, Kora Fund Vice Chair Marie Maddison, and Education Minister Kitlang Kabua.
Following the speeches, the first loan was presented to Leilani Kemem to support her new business venture for ice-making. In her speech, Leilani mentioned that the reason she wanted to start an ice cube-making business was because “every time I go to buy ice, they say emoj an Iroojlaplap Mike wiaki aolep ice ko” (Iroojlaplap Mike has bought all the ice) — which made everyone laugh, including Irooj Mike.
The Kora Fund team was led by Board Chair Amenta Matthew and Vice Chair Marie, joined by working committee members Jennifer Hawley, Brenda Alik and Molly Helkena, and fund administrator Monique Graham. They were joined by Bank of Marshall Islands loan manager Mathilda Johnson.
The new fund was launched in Majuro earlier this year and has already issued small loans valued at over $200,000 thousand. With the $5,000 loan to Leilani, the total provided by the Kora Fund to Marshall Islands women as of this past weekend was $214,600, according to Monique.
The fund plan came about as a result of collaboration between Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen and former President Hilda Heine, who developed the idea to encourage Marshallese women entrepreneurs.
The Kora Fund and Bank of Marshall Islands have issued 74 small loans to women since the inception of the program in January this year.
The loans range from a low of $500 to a high of $10,000 and are averaging $2,900. The loans are supporting business developments on Majuro, Kwajalein, Ailinglaplap, Ujae, Mejit, Ebon, Arno and Wotje.