Mary, 25, was orphaned at five years old, and had to drop out of school after sixth grade because there was no one to pay her school fees (education is free only through sixth grade in Malawi). She started doing what she called “casual labor” — project work like cleaning and sewing — until she was married at 15 years old. She and her husband Humphreys have three boys aged eight, six and three. They live in a very poor rural village a half-hour away from Opportunity’s bank branch in Mulanje, which in turn is an hour away from Blantyre.
Mary and her husband started a used clothing business six years ago but it didn’t produce enough income to meet their needs. The family struggled to put three meals on the table, and lived with relatives because they couldn’t afford a home of their own. Then Mary heard about Opportunity International on the radio and from other Opportunity clients, and applied for her first Trust Group loan of 30,000 kwacha (US$200) to buy more used clothing to sell in the market. She was able to repay her loan within five months.
She is now on her fifth loan of 30,000 kwacha. Today, she purchases new clothing in Blantyre, loads it onto a bicycle and then crosses the border with an employee to sell it in Mozambique where there is less competition. She has also diversified into selling her home-grown maize and produce in the Mathambi Trading Center, and rents out 10 two-bedroom homes that she owns.
- Written by Opportunity employee Cynthis Greenwood
To learn more about Mary's inspirational story visit http://www.opportunity.org/blog/my-meeting-in-malawi-with-inspiration-and-microfinance-success-story-mary/.
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