WDB Trust is a Public Benefit Organization (PBO), which mobilizes resources to promote an integrated poverty reduction strategy which links poor households in South Africa to finance; a basket of development services; enterprise opportunities; training and ancillary programmes in order to build productive and sustainable family and community livelihoods.

The strategic focus of WDB Trust is sustainable socio-economic inclusion of poor rural women into the mainstream economy. We focus on women because developmental benefits that reach women are spread among families and communities rather than the individual women who participate in our programmes.



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 1996 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.

Mrs Zanele Mbeki and the founders of WDB had a simple vision from the very beginning (over 25 years ago): to put developmental resources directly into the hands of South Africa’s “un-bankable” women so that they could start their own income-generating activities.

our beginning


From its inception, WDB was rooted in the international women’s movement. We believe that a truly democratic, non-racial and non-sexist South Africa will be realized through the efforts of women. We seek to empower women to contribute towards national development initiatives to ensure that their interests are not overlooked. WDB Trust therefore fosters unity and development among women.

At the time of establishing WDB in 1991, research showed that while a big part of the population existed below the minimum subsistence level, poverty has a feminine character: women constituted the majority of the poor and experience poverty more acutely than men. It was important to strengthen organizations dedicated to women’s development and to create new institutions to empower women in all areas of human activity. The factors that led to the establishment of WDB in 1991 remain relevant today,



WDB Trust provides developmental micro finance. We link poor rural communities to developmental resources in their areas in order to assist them to graduate from poverty. We empower communities in our areas of operation by providing developmental training and ICT training. We aim to continue to be financially sustainable through our income-generating projects, services and investments.

what we offer



The Siyakhula Microfinance Institution (Siyakhula MFI) deliberately targets women because women constitute the largest percentage of the very poor.
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Zenzele Development Programme

The Zenzele Development Programme (Zenzele) is a synchronized poverty reduction system for local communities in nodal areas. It mobilizes support and catalyses community self-organization by connecting poor families to a basket of services and through stakeholder engagement.
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WDB Development Training Academy

The WDB Development Training Academy aims to train a new cadre of community workers who would become champions of women’s empowerment and poverty reduction.
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