Beposo is a farming community in rural Ghana. It has no electricity but thankfully has a borehole for water. In 2011, nine women from this community benefited from Self-Help International’s micro credit program, receiving loans for petty trading and agro processing.
After two loans the beneficiaries saw positive changes in their lives, the most notable being the purchase of cell phones by four women. In Ghana, cell phones can be purchased for $20-25. The number of beneficiaries using cell phones has more than doubled in the past couple of years, with approximately 3 in 5 beneficiaries now using the devices.
The Women Behind the Phones
Some of the cell phones look attractive and expensive, but are still reasonable to purchase, as in the case of Elizabeth. Elizabeth is a hairdresser who has eyes for beautiful things and is doing well with her loans.
In front of Elizabeth are items for her hair dressing business such as wigs, hair cream and rollers. She tells Self-Help the phone makes it easier to schedule appointments with her clients. She tells clients, “…my cell phone number is written in front of my door...in case I am in the next village you just buzz me…” Instead of missing appointments, Elizabeth can communicate with her clients to let them know her whereabouts. Her cell phone can provide the vital link she needs to her clients, enabling her business to grow.
Cell phones aren’t just for trading businesses and emergencies, for Maame Adwoa her phone is a lifeline to her daughter who is in a teacher training college in the city. Maame is a farmer, whose participation in the micro credit program has improved her business, making it possible to send her children to a good school in the city.
There is no electricity in most villages, so how do they charge the batteries on their new cell phones without missing business calls? When batteries run down the phones are sent to nearby community with electricity, which will charge the phone for the fee of 50p (26 cents). Sometimes a phone sent in to be charges is either stolen or swapped. The search for a solution is still continuing.
Akosua Sends Her Son toSchool
Akosua Pokua, a busy, 42-year-old mother of three boys andone girl, is very appreciative of Self-Help International’s micro credit loans.
Akosua and her family live in Nkawie, a small farming town inGhana. In 2009 Akousa used her first microcredit loan to purchase sheep tostart a small trading business. SHI reports her loan repayment record is soconsistent she has continued to take out SHI micro credit loans each yearsince.
Akosua’s eldest son has decided he wants to attend a TeacherTraining College, a school requiring a steep tuition. Proceeds from her smallbusiness enabled Akosua to build a 3-room home for her family. Now that extra money is needed for her son,she is able to rent out one of her rooms. Happily Akousa reports that rent fromthe room, combined with her savings, is enough to send her son to college. “Weare able to feed the family and send my son to school. I am very appreciative of Self-Help’ssupport.”
Confession of a Husband
“I am an indirect beneficiary of your program,” confessed Antwi, husband of Akosua. “And I will be forever grateful!” This was the happy confession Self Help staff heard from Antwi when visiting Worapong, Ghana last December.
Antwi’s wife, Akosua, is on her third micro-credit loan from Self Help. She sells kose, a popular kind of doughnut prepared from cowpea and usually eaten in the morning with porridge. Akosua reports the loans have helped her start-up and expand her cocoa farm and pay for improvements to her food vending business. “The loans have indirectly helped my entire family,” says Akosua.
Akosua invested some of her micro-credit loan profits in her husband’s firewood business. According to Antwi, the couple is anticipating a profit this year. The funds helped buy a chainsaw which, in turn, allows Antwi to cut more wood, enabling him to produce and sell more lumber. “We will be able to build a new house for our family this year,” says Antwi.
Antwi is so appreciative of Self Help’s micro-credit loan program that he has occasionally made the 20 mile trek to Kumasi to make the loan payment for his wife.
Worapong is a small farming community located outside of Kumasi. Except for the elementary and Jr. High schools, the village is very primitive with no electricity or running water.
Being able to produce and sell firewood and kose in the village benefits the entire community.
Torrential rainfalls caused the Offin River to spill over its banks near Abompe, Ghana earlier this year. The flooded river submerged the road linking Asugya to Abompe, the only thoroughfare for local villagers.
But the extreme weather didn’t stop Linda, a micro-credit loan trainee, from crossing the flooded river in an old, leaky canoe with her 4 month old daughter to attend the Self Help International micro credit meeting in Abompe.
“Linda is very diligent about attending the training sessions Self Help sponsors,” says Benjamin Kusi, project officer of the training program. Before women are granted micro-credit loans from Self Help they must successfully complete a 6-month training program teaching basic business guidelines and healthy, day-to-day living strategies.
Traveling through extreme, weather-related conditions to attend these sessions is common, explains Kusi. The woman are so grateful for the opportunity to learn how to improve their lives and provide a better lifestyle for their children.
Linda will graduate from the training program in February, 2012 and will be eligible for a micro-credit loan at that time.
“It is satisfying to see the confidence and progress these women experience through the training program and financial support from Self Help, “ continues Kusi. “Their lives are literally transformed.”
Young Mother Grateful for a Micro Credit “Legacy.”
Afia, a 22 year-old, single mother, did not know how she was going to support herself and her new “bouncy” baby girl. She was forced to leave a seamstress apprenticeship in the nearby town of Kumasi when she discovered she was pregnant.
After moving back home with her mother to Kyereyaase, a farming community in Ghana, Afia became discouraged with the lack of opportunities. “I became frustrated and confused as a single parent with virtually no support from anyone,” she says.
Help came from a knowledgeable and familiar source. Afia’s mother, a successful micro credit beneficiary herself, suggested Afia attend a Self Help sponsored training workshop designed to teach Kyereyaase women how to diversify their businesses. The training focused on how to make pastries, meat pie, doughnuts and plantain chips.
Shortly after the training, Afia’s mother decided to give her daughter start-up money with profits from her successful business funded by Self Help. With GH50 ($33), Afia was able to begin preparing and selling pastries in her community. Ten days after starting her business she was able to buy a frying pan and coal pot.
Today Afia spends about $13 a day and receives between $17 and $20 a day, more than a 30% profit! “Today I am thankful to God and Self-Help for the opportunity given me to enable me to help myself,” says Afia
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