An Update on Businesses Run by Women Entrepreneurs in Power of Love's Micro Loans Program in Zambia

We would like to say a big "Thank You" for supporting women entrepreneurs in Zambia. Your generous donations have helped our women entrepreneurs, to start  businesses and make them grow, support themselves and their families, and take the first steps towards self-reliance.

Power of Love’s microloans program empowers women impacted by HIV/AIDS and helps them take the first steps towards self-reliance. You will be happy to know that we now have 170 women running businesses in Lusaka, Zambia. Women in our micro loans program are provided with loans, business training, and ongoing monitoring and business support from trained staff.  At this time, the 170 women entrepreneurs meet weekly with the loan officer, discuss issues related to their loans, children's health, schooling, HIV prevention, and how to improve their businesses. They are applying the basic principles of business by tracking sales, inventories, expenses, and keeping accounts daily. In addition, they are learning that a better store design and display leads to more sales and repeat customers. A majority of the women are on track with repayments.

About the Businesses: Out of 170 women, 145 women received their first loan in March of 2010 and they are expected to complete their third loan cycle by January 2013. From this group of 145 women, 81 have increased their capital and are well on their way to self-reliance. This group of 81 women encourages the other women in the program to work hard to improve sales from their businesses. In addition, the 25 new women entrepreneurs who received loans in September 2012 are expected to complete their first loan cycle by April/May 2013. Once they complete their first loan cycle, they will be eligible for a second loan. Typically, the businesses started with the loan funds are: (i) grocery items like dried fish, beans, rice, cooking pots, cups and plates, bananas, soft drinks, popcorn, charcoal, fresh fish, cup cakes, milk, sugar, tea, coffee, vegetables, fruits, peanut butter, fritters, (ii) books (mostly Bibles), (iii) clothing: school jerseys, used clothing, and (iv) shoes. In addition, a few women have purchased a small plot of land each to start building rooms and rent the rooms for income purposes.

Short term Impact of the Program: The businesses help provide for 850 children, as on average a woman cares for 5 or more children in her home. Also, as a result of earnings from these businesses, the health and nutrition of the family improves, parents and family members can pay for school expenses (books, shoes, school bag, uniforms), and the children can go back to school.

Long term Impact of the Program: The long-term impact of our micro loans program is to allow women to start planning, saving, and building a better future for themselves and their families. Each and every one of our woman entrepreneurs is a star as they are battling difficult circumstances to provide for their families and keep their children healthy, and in school. Most of them have built successful businesses, and have become role models and mentors for other women in the community. These role models/mentors encourage others in the community to go in for voluntary testing and counseling (VCT) to reduce the spread of HIV infection, start businesses, and take charge of their own lives. This leads to substantial positive impact on the community beyond the program participants themselves.