You will be happy to know that we now have 230 women enrolled in our Microfinance Program, a majority of whom are running successful businesses. The businesses chosen by the women are quite diverse and range from groceries (cooking oil, rice, sugar, eggs, fruits, vegetables, beans, and mealie meal, a Zambian staple), restaurants, and salons to selling dressed chicken, dried fish, charcoal, baby blankets, books, 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 then resell these at a higher price in their community. 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. These businesses benefit the community at large as well as the women running them - they are located within walking distance and community members are able to purhcase smaller and more affordable quantities.
Here are the stories of two women who have inspired us with their inventiveness and “can do” attitude.
Nelly is a 45 year old widow. Her husband died two years ago, leaving her her with six children and one grandson in her care. Her income as a maid was not enough to support herself and her family. In September 2013, she received business training and a loan that enabled her to start a small restaurant at the Tuesday community market.
At present, her restaurant draws a regular clientele and she has been able to move out of her sister’s place, where she had been living since the passing of her husband. She now rents a two-room apartment where she lives with her children and grandchild. Nelly is appreciative of our business training/loans program and the continued business guidance she receives to ensure her business is doing well.