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Empowering Individuals in the Global Community Through Entrepreneurship
Boun is an entrepreneur from the Borikhan Province, located in central Laos. She has been a client of WFDF since the new WPF supported branch opened in her area in July 2012. Her first and current loan cycle is in the amount of 2,000,000 Kip ($261 USD) which she has utilized to purchase materials for her mushroom cultivation business.
In a small space in Boun’s home, she has built shelves which hold numerous clear plastic bags filled with sand and seed powder, lining one wall almost floor to ceiling. Growing mushrooms is a profitable business for many entrepreneurs in Laos and similar locations in South East Asia. It is fairly inexpensive and “doesn’t require much maintenance once you get started, just wait,” says Boun. Once the mushrooms have grown to an adequate size, Boun harvests and sells them at the local market.
Although Boun’s mushroom growing business is going well and she would like to increase production. Boun plans to use her next loan from WFDF to cultivate the mushrooms on a much larger scale so she can sell the pre-made bags to other individuals who would also like to start growing. She also aspires to improve the rest of her modest farm for additional income.
Anna is a microentrepreneur from South Africa using her loan to support her roadside restaurant.
She hasn’t increased her loan amount from the original amount she borrowed of 1,500 Rands (about $150) in the first cycle, but she said the business has really grown just with the loan capital she has. Anna said she is conservative about the amount she wants to borrow.
Over time she has added eggs and chicken to her menu which carry a big profit margin if you have the up front capital to buy them. Now she is readying plans to open a side shop with basic goods to make the restaurant a one stop shop for food and shopping. She said the loan has really made a huge difference in her work. Her loan group is called Pfukani, which means “Wake Up!”
Ümran received her first microfinance loan of 700 TL nine months ago and has never had any other financing sources. She bought hand-made soaps wholesale from a company and now runs a shop from her home. With over thirty types of soaps, their ingredients range from honey to carrots to rose petals.
Her business was so successful that after 6 months she took out a second loan of 1,000 TL. Now, she says she has enough money for herself and to contribute to her family. Her monthly net income is roughly 300 TL. Her dream is to own a larger shop where she can sell more products.
Kiatou is in her fourth loan with GRAINE in Burkina Faso. She manages a loan of about $200 (100,000 CFA), which is a big increase from her first loan of $75 (35,000 CFA).
Kiatou sells a locally harvested spice which is present in Burkina cooking in her village called Soumbala. Soumbala is shucked from a bean-like pod, boiled and the small black seeds which result are pressed together in small black balls. The taste is like a light tamarind flavor.
Kiatou sells what she can locally, but also travels to other regional markets as well as the large market in Burkina’s second city of Bobo Dioulasso about 50 km away. She says the demand is great which is why she has been able to increase her loan over time.
She says she is careful to divide all money that comes in into two parts: one for repaying GRAINE and a second for meeting the needs of her household.
She manages her loan in a group 10 in her solidarity group and 43 in her larger “GVM” or Groupe villigoise de microfinance. The name of the group is Sabarikadi which means “Patience and Forgiveness”.
Marta Galicia Parra is a microentrepreneur from Mexico and has been a Pro Mujer client for the last year. She owns a flower shop located in Mexico City. She gets a $500 loan twice a year from Pro Mujer to invest in her business.
Luciana is a microentrepreneur from Brazil. Whole Planet Foundation is supporting Banco do Povo in the greater urban Sao Paulo area, in this case a “city within the city” called Santo Andre. Banco do Povo has been reaching new borrowers in this area due to WPF support.
Luciana sells fruit and vegetables at various markets. She sells at a different market every day of the week as each area and neighborhood has a particular market day. She is in business with her husband who has a vehicle and provides the transport for the purchase and delivery of the goods. He purchases the goods at the central comercio and distribution center in Sao Paulo where they pay the cheapest price possible. She works from 6AM – 3PM every day.
There are 5 women in her borrower group. They are doing what they do out of necessity, as they do not qualify for bank loans although they do have bank accounts with local commercial banks. Luciana started with a loan of 400 Reales (about $200). They estimate weekly sales of 300R - 500 R on a good day, but it varies a lot, and they estimate a 50% profit margin. The primary benefit of working with Banco do Povo they said was increased purchasing power. If before they could only purchase 3 crates of limes, now they can buy 4, and so on.
Feza is a fourth cycle borrower in FINCA’s Village Banking program borrowing $300 to support her small hardware stall in the Likasi central market.
She started in 2011 with FINCA borrowing $150, then bumped her capital to $200 for two cycles, before increasing again to $300 in the current cycle! She has managed to put $200 in her savings account with FINCA since starting the loan program.
FINCA requires clients to save at least 20% of their loan amount so her savings surpasses that. She laments that the rainy period is the hardest time for business (the current time) and said business is slow from Christmas until the end of March, but the flexibility of the loan cycles allows her to adjust the business to take into account seasonality. Her FINCA savings account also allows her to weather downturns better than before.
Silvia, in her own words, does un poco de todo or “a little bit of everything.” One of her businesses is cooking traditional cuisine which she sells from home. Her clients are her neighbors and friends and when she is making a dish she hangs a sign on her front porch, or simply let’s people know by word of mouth. Her son also chips in and helps market via Facebook, letting people know that today his mom is making Humitas, or Pastel do Choclo, or Gnocchi, (yes, Italian food too!).
She first heard about Fundacion Banigualdad from a neighbor friend at church. She is the treasurer of her borrower group and therefore responsible for collecting the group’s repayment and depositing it on time. She started with a loan of 80,000 pesos (about $170) and used this loan to buy a cooler to store her product as well as to finance the purchase of the raw materials needed for the recipes. The loan is important to her because her family needed money. Her husband wasn’t working at the time so things were tight.
Her dream is to have her own restaurant someday and serve many more clients. Her advice to others and life philosophy is con carino las cosas salen rico or “with love everything is better.”
TuYa is a farmer from a small town in Inner-Mongolia where she raises oxen, pigs, chickens, and sheep.
TuYa is nearing the end of her first cycle loan with CZWSDA. Her first loan was in the amount of 3,000 RMB ($ 475 USD). As part of CZWSDA policy, if a client demonstrates the ability to repay and has the capacity and need for additional funding, the borrower may also become eligible for a “supplemental loan” up to 3,000 RMB in the course of the same loan term. TuYa took advantage of the opportunity and applied and received the “supplemental loan” five months after receiving the initial 3,000 RMB.
TuYa used the capital from these two loans to expand the number of sheep she currently owns to 130 and to make improvements to her aging farm constructing a larger pin for the increasing number of animals she owns.
TuYa hopes to continue with CZWSDA and increase the size of her farm. Her dream is to continue to save in order to make home improvements that will provide greater comfort in her small house as she grows older.
Whole Planet Foundation is supporting PMB in the Potosi region of Bolivia one of the poorest and most remote areas of this country. Potosi was once considered the richest city in the world due to the vast mineral resources in the Cerro Rico or Rich Mountain that towers in the background. It is also the highest city in the world at 4090 m well over 13,000 feet with frigid temperatures and a very harsh environment.
The local economy is all based on the mines. Juana sells juice to the miners in the market area near the entrance of the mines. Juana sells her juices from a local market right next to the miners cooperative Association. She is happy that the town recently built a new structure with glass windows indoor to protect from the cold and wind.
Juana is a widow 57 years old has been selling juices to the miners in Potosi Bolivia for the past 20 years. She has 9 children. Mostly she sells bananas papayas and apple juice. Her husband was a minor and died from health complications due to the harsh environment in the mines. The life expectancy of the miners is about 15-20 years from when they enter the mines to work. There are many widows in Potosi.
She's part of the borrower group Rompe Corazones which means the Heartbreakers. She does not hold a formal position and her group she's quite happy just being a member. There are 10 women in her group.
She started working with PMB about two years ago when one of the credit officers came to promote PMB. She says she was very nervous and even scared at first because she had never taken a loan before. She started with only 2000 Bolivianos about $290. She used her first loan to invest in working capital. She estimates that she sells about 400 Bolivianos today which is about $60 and will go through 600 bananas. Today she has a loan of 5000 Bolivianos about $700. She has taken out for loans since she started with PMB. The duration of the loan is six months.
She has used her most recent loan to build the second story of her house and she's proud of the fact that she has worked hard and saved and is able to pass on to her children a place to live. Five of her children still live with her including grandchildren and son-in-law's who work as miners in the rich mountain. The house is pictured with daughter Elizabeth above.
She has taken advantage of the women's health exams offered by PMB and is happy to have access to added benefits.
Her daughter Elizabeth also shown in the pictures helps her mom at the juice bar and also lives with her with her three children her husband works as a miner. She dreams of a better life for her children and her own juice bar outside of the market.
Jessica is a new client of Pro Mujer Peru in the Whole Planet Foundation funded Cusco branch. She is 33 years old and has 2 daughters, ages 12 and 1 ½.
Her solidarity group name is called Las Golondrinas (which is a bird) and she is the treasurer of her group which means she's responsible for collecting the payments from the other women in her group. Her first loan was for 1000 soles (about $375) and her second loan 500 soles (about $190). She decided to take a smaller loan because sales are down this time of year as she generally sells more during the rainy season when she will ask for a larger loan again.
If you ask Jessica what she does, she will tell you she is a mechanic. She stands proudly and firmly and states that she is a woman working in a man's world. She works with her father, brothers and mother and generally, has her one and a half-year-old baby infant on her back while she works. She repairs motors of any type, mostly gas powered motors such as those used in cement mixers and grinders for corn. She also manufactures hydroelectric generators, called Peltons, for home use and sells them in rural communities which do not have electricity. She has taken mechanic courses at the local technical school, but she first learned how to make the Peltons by looking at a model on the Internet.
The family also has a brick manufacturing business which they work about two days out of the week. She's proud of what she does and the skills she has learned from her father. She uses her profit to pay for her older daughter to go to private school to get a better education.
Jessica dreams of having a larger mechanic shop, becoming an expert mechanic and having more income to provide a better life for her children. She also wants to inspire other women to follow her example to do men's work. Jessica dedicates her life to her work and her family.
Lourdes is a young tradeswoman who runs her own business, a small general store. She is 25 years old and lives in Mariano Roque Alonso, a district known for the largest agriculture and industry fair in Paraguay.
Lourdes is the reflection of many of the women in Paraguay who wiped extreme poverty off, and found in the “Committees of Women Entrepreneurs” (Fundacion Paraguaya’s village banking program) the best way to improve their income and life style.
“When I first started, my store had a plain scale with different metal weights, a couple of shelves, very few merchandise and an old fridge. Now I have a digital scale, a 400 litter freezer, two big fridges and a bigger quantity of merchandise”, the young entrepreneur says with profound satisfaction.
The Fundacion Paraguaya, a local Paraguayan NGO, has more than 2,000 Committees of Women Entrepreneurs (village banking groups) across the country, comprising nearly 30,000 women whose average loans are of $80.
Lourdes, as the other members of the committee, gets microloans for investing in her small business, and training sessions in financial management, leadership, self-management and other skills.
“My first loan was of US$40, which I invested in merchandise for my store. I was so excited! It was the first time in my life I got access to credit. Before that, I always wanted to ask for a loan from a financial institution to fulfill my dream of owning a store”, Lourdes remembers.
Ramirez has all her goals clear in her head, she dreams with something new and saves up to get it.
“Now that I got my dream of having my own little business, I dream with new things. My dream now is to have a bigger store with more merchandise and a small restaurant, where I could sell fast food and drinks. I’m thinking about dismantling this unstable wood construction, buy some new tables, get cable TV and make hamburgers and other kinds of fast food that you can’t get in my neighborhood.”
“When I close my eyes I see my own house made of hard material, my cooler and a TV upstairs in a pedestal support. I also see my restaurant filled with people sitting around the table and I see myself serving them. Since I was young I always dreamed of having my own restaurant. I’m surrounded by people who support me to fulfill this dream.”
For Lourdes, the key is to save money to fulfill her dreams and to help people who might need it. Besides, she has developed her own savings method through the years so that she can reach her goals.
“I always save with a goal in mind. I’ve been saving the earnings from my sales for 6 months now, in a US$3 dollar-a-day piggy bank, for my son’s birthday. And I keep a daily record in my store so I know how much money I need to have in the register at the end of every day”, she explains. “I also plan on buying a freezer to cool drinks as a goal. And I’m going to make it, just as I could buy and pay for my other freezer simply with my daily ice selling profit. While today Lourdes enjoys her best income level so far and a significantly improved life style, it wasn’t always like this.
Her father died when she was only 12 years old. Soon after that she decided, as many young women in the rural areas, to head out for the capital city to work as a housemaid.
She got pregnant at age 19 and with that she took on a whole new set of responsibilities. “I realized I was pregnant when I was in my fourth month. I almost died. I got so depressed because I was going to be a single mom.”
However, as she explains, her situation began to change when she found the Committee of Entrepreneurial Women. This gave her a support system and access to credit to invest in her own business, the small general store, which after three years keeps on growing and giving her hope for a better future.
Julienne is in their second season with One Acre Fund. She took a loan of 9,500 Rwandan Francs (about $16) to farm 13 Ares of land (about a third of an acre). They only own 8 Ares, and rent 5 additional Ares to increase their bean farm.
The methodology has made a huge difference to the household, where in the past the family was lucky to end up with one bag of corn and beans. The last season the family harvested five bags of beans and corn.
In the past, the family didn’t even harvest enough for their own food needs, but under the One Acre Fund program they are not only able to feed themselves but also sell 3 of the 5 harvested bags in the market place to pay for school fees, school materials and pay laborers to work the farm.
Julienne credits the difference to the ability to access fertilizer and the training she received from the Field Officer at One Acre fund. She said the Field Officer worked with her to order the appropriate amount of fertilizer and implement valuable techniques such as not to mix crops. Julienne and her husband Damacene have 7 children.
Pham is a microcredit client who lives in Northeastern Vietnam with her husband and four children. She has borrowed from TYM for three consecutive years, using the funds to purchase supplies for her restaurant. Pham has owned and operated the same restaurant out of her home for 10 years.
The family depends on the income generated from her business as well as that from her husband’s job as a factory guard. She cooks everyday from 4:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. receiving a daily profit of 90,000 to 100,000 Vietnamese Dong, which is just under $5.00 USD. She has future aspirations to upgrade her restaurant and home and is currently saving money to do so.
Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity; it is an act of justice.
The poor themselves can create a poverty free world.
Ingrid Munro, Director of Jamii Bora, a Whole Planet Foundation partner in Kenya
One cannot lift a person out of poverty. There is no country in the world that has raised itself out of poverty through charity. What we offer to Jamii Bora members is access to a ladder that they can climb up to take themselves out of poverty. But the climbing they must do themselves.