Impact of COVID, climate change: In the past 3-4 years, more countries are facing growing levels of food insecurity and lack of income opportunities due to COVID, climate change, and conflict. One solution is to provide income generating skills and loans/financing to these families. Provision of microcredit is a cost-effective solution to generate an income and keep children in school.
Our response: To keep vulnerable families self-reliant and sustainable, our focus over the last year has been on increased training and closer monitoring to ensure business success. For example, more than 800 women received training in business this year. This is in addition to ongoing refresher training, business mentoring and business monitoring provided. After completion of business training, the newly trained entrepreneurs start businesses such as vegetables and grocery stand, used clothing, used shoes, blankets, school uniforms, dress making, bed sheets etc. The story of a typical beneficiary is given below.
Mary’s story: Mary (name changed) is a widow and the sole caregiver for her five children. Her youngest child is HIV+ and enrolled in our pediatric HIV care program. She was devastated when she lost her husband as she did not have any way to support her family. Her children were out of school for a short time as she could not afford fees but are back in school since January 2022 when school fees were eliminated by the government. She lives in a 2-room home which is very small for a family of six. She was struggling to pay rent and was earning a meagre amount washing clothes for others. Earlier this year, Mary qualified for a loan and was happy as this provided her with an opportunity to earn an income. With loan funds, she started selling used clothes and bedding. In her words, “it was like a dream come true when I was told that I have qualified for a loan, and this will change my life and that of my children”. She is on track with repayments on her first loan and can put food on the table 2-3 times a day unlike the times when they could not even eat one meal a day. Currently, she is working hard to grow her business. With funds from her subsequent loans, she plans to purchase other types of products so that she can save enough to buy a plot for her children.
Mary and the hundreds of women running businesses with loan funds, inspire us every day. In addition to paying for food, medicines, and school expenses the women enjoy a stable income, start building assets, lead others, and are on the path to self-reliance.
What is the key to success? We strongly believe that the women’s businesses are succeeding due to (i) loan recipients receive ongoing support, business monitoring, and mentoring to ensure business success, and (ii) we work closely with local leaders and community organizations including churches which helps in building trust with community members.
Thanks for bringing income stability and improved gender equity in resource poor communities.