In 1976 and I was a young woman applying for my first credit loan so I could buy a sewing machine. It was an electric machine with 3 basic stitches for about $120.00. Forty years later I realize how easily I got that loan and how much I have taken for granted.
In September of 2014, I was in Madagascar with the Whole Foods Market Team Member Volunteer Program and Madécasse Chocolate where I met Rita.
Rita is a young woman who has received loans through Première Agence de Microfinance, Whole Planet Foundation’s microlending partner. She creates beautiful mosquito netting and bed coverings which she sells up and down the west coast of Madagascar and also in the Comoros Islands. She runs her business on the porch of her home where her seamstresses sit on low stools or the floor and use hand operated Singer sewing machines. Sewing a long seam with a hand-operated machine requires patience and lots of time and I recognized the determination that Rita had to make her business succeed. This young woman has been given an opportunity with microfinance loans and she is using it wisely. She has money for her family now and she has employed a couple other women in the community. And I don’t doubt that in a short time she will reach her next goal of upgrading to machines with foot-pedals.
In Rita I see a strong and confident young woman who is very talented and determined. She has hopes and dreams and she is on her way to making those dreams come true. Meeting Rita helped to solidify my conviction that providing access to microfinance is one of the best ways to help the people of Madagascar.
Madagascar is my homeland and I have always struggled with the collision of reality between my comfortable life here in the United States and the trials of everyday life in Madagascar. But now I can make a difference. When I purchase a Madécasse chocolate bar, my dollar is going right back into the local Malagasy economy and every dollar I donate to Whole Planet Foundation goes directly into microlending programs through Whole Planet Foundation’s partners around the globe.
I have this photograph of Rita on my desk to remind me every day that when I shop, I can make choices that affect so many others and by shopping wisely I can help to change lives in Madagascar.
It will cost Rita about $225.00 to buy a new pedal sewing machine; my goal is to make sure I have supported people like her through my donations to Whole Planet Foundation.