Power of Love’s micro loans program now has 240 women enrolled and the majority of them are running successful businesses. The businesses chosen by the women are quite diverse and range from groceries (mealie meal - a Zambian staple, cooking oil, rice, sugar, eggs, fruits, vegetables, and beans), to dressed chicken, dried fish, charcoal, baby blankets, books, restaurant, and a salon etc. Most women (about 50%) have started tiny grocery stores located close to their homes.
About 20% of the women sell used clothes and shoes. These ladies travel by bus to the City Market in Lusaka, purchase the used clothing and shoes and resell these at a higher price in their community marketplace. Many of the businesses such as charcoal, rice, beans and sugar involve the women buying in bulk, repackaging the item in smaller quantities and reselling.
All of these businesses add value for the community members as they are located within walking distance from their homes and the community is able to purchase smaller and more affordable quantities. For example, one of the ladies, Edith Makoni, owned a hair dryer machine, so she opened a hair salon by renting space in the marketplace and purchasing supplies necessary to running her business, such as combs and cosmetics. Edith is now providing a service to women closer to their homes and at reasonable prices.
Business training and loans provided to women go a long way in helping them provide for their families and take the first steps towards self-reliance. At this time, 70% of the women are single or widowed and 50% are dependent on their husband or relatives for household expenses. On average each woman cares for 7 or more people at home - our goal is to help these women learn how to run a business so they can pay for school expenses and keep their children in school.
We track businesses run by our loan recipients to study how they evolve as they progress from their first loan to their second and third loan cycles. Our hope is that as the women move to through their loan cycles, they are able to increase the number and variety of products, add higher value items, increase the store size or move to a better location, and have a better store design and display.