Micro Loans For Women Impacted by HIV/AIDS, Zambia

 
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Power of Love's micro loans program provides business training, small loans and business monitoring and advice to poor women entrepreneurs in Zambia.  Over the last eight years, our women entrepreneurs have built successful businesses that provide for their families, keep their children healthy, and in school. In addition, the women have started planning and saving for a better future for themselves and their families. Repayment rates in our program are in the range of 90% - extraordinary given the difficult circumstances of our loan grantees. We believe that these high repayment rates are the result of the business training provided prior to the loan. For more information on our micro loans program, please click here.

In April 2013, business training and loans were provided to 80 new women entrepreneurs. The women were identified and selected based on their willingness to learn to run a business and family circumstance. Eighty women participated in our four day business training program. The goal of the training is to equip the women with tools that will help them run a successful business so that they work towards self-reliance. This Mother's Day, give a gift of business training to a mom in Zambia so she can take care of her family and keep her children in school. A gift of $50 will provide business training to one mom entrepreneur in Zambia. To donate please click here.

Business Training Modules

Introduction: this part of the training is vital as it helps the women understand if they can be good borrowers. Most of the women have never been to school or had any formal training so even simple business concepts are new to them. All modules are supplemented with hands on exercises, and work sheets, real world examples and group discussions. This part of the training covers:  

  • What is business?
  • How to start or expand your own business?
  • How to raise money for your business?
  • How to make profit in your own business?
  • How to protect your own business

Market investigation - This is the second module and covers topics such as:

  • What  am I going to sell
  • Who will buy from me
  • What will be the location of my business
  • How am I going to sell my goods or services

Buying - In module 3, the following concepts are discussed:

  • Quality
  • Cost and Pricing
  • Basic line and other lines
  • Adding other merchandise lines
  • Places to buy from
  • Inventory size
  • Frequency of purchase of raw material/supplies/inventory

 Business Concepts - This module covers:

  • Sales
  • Profits
  • Price
  • Managing Money
  • Repayment Schedule

 Business Promotion - This module covers:

  • Learning about your product
  • Advertising your business
  • Store display and design
  • Learning about customer needs
  • Customer Service
  • Ethical business practices
  • Reasons for a business to not do well

Simple Business Plan - The training ends with the women making a simple business plan for their proposed business. In addition, one afternoon is devoted to a discussion on social issues, followed by Q and A. This encourages the women to share their views, and ask questions so that they can learn about a variety of issues (ranging from repayments, to prevention of HIV, and running the business if a family member/child is sick and needs care) that are important to them.

At the end of the training, the women are eager to start their own business and start making repayments with earnings from their businesses. The women understand the importance of making loan repayments on time as after completion of repayments they are eligible for a second loan, and subsequently a third and final loan.   

Conclusion

The business training provided to the loan grantees is popular with the participants and a critical factor that leads to high repayment rates.  

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Power of Love's micro loans program provides business training, loans and business monitoring and advice to poor women entrepreneurs in Zambia. Over the last few years, our women entrepreneurs have built successful businesses even though each and every one of them is battling difficult circumstances to provide for their families and keep their children healthy, and in school. In addition, they have started planning and saving for a better future for themselves and their families. The women are now comfortable with planning and saving - ideas that were foreign to their culture just a few months back. In addition, our women entrepreneurs encourage others in the community to go in for voluntary testing and counseling (VCT) to reduce the spread of HIV infection, start businesses, and take charge of their own lives, becoming role models and mentors for other men and women in the community. This leads to substantive ripple effects in the community beyond the program participants themselves. For more information please click here.

Given below are stories of two women entrepreneurs who received loans from this program and are now on the road to self-reliance.

Monica: Monica is 32 years old with two of her own children and two children from her late brother. One of her dependents is HIV positive. Before, Monica joined our micro loans program she was dependent on food from the Church and could not afford to pay rent for her house leading to frequent moves.  Once she joined the micro loans program, she received business training and a small loan to start a business. Monica started a business selling vegetables and is now running a small drug store. At this time, she is able to pay for school fees and expenses for her children. Since, Monica has been paying her rent on time she has been living in the same place for over a year. In addition, she has been able to almost double her capital. Monica is happy that she was able to join Power of Love's micro loans program and is looking forward to a bright future.

Winnie: Winnie is a 42 years old widow. She has six children and two dependents and she was finding it difficult to care for a household with nine people. After she lost her husband, her children stopped going to school since she could not afford school fees, and could afford only one meal per day for her family. Winnie used to sell vegetable when her husband was alive but exhausted all her savings on her husband's illness.  One of our women entrepreneurs informed her about our loans program and subsequently Winnie was enrolled in our program. Winnie received business training and a loan to start a business and since then her life changed for the better. In addition, her son was enrolled in Power of Love's pediatric HIV/AIDS care program. She is now able to pay for school fees and school expenses and is able to take better care of her family. Winnie takes orders for clothes in Lusaka, travels to the Tanzania border, buys clothes and shoes there, comes back and sells them at home. Her business is doing well and she more than doubled her capital by the time she graduated out of our program. In the next few months, she plans diversify her business by traveling to S.Africa to purchase hardware to sell at home.

Winnie has promised to come back and act as a mentor to other women in this program to show her appreciation for what she has been able to achieve as a result of the training and loan she received from this program. 

Thanks again for supporting poor women entrepreneurs start and grow a business and take the first steps towards self-reliance. 

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The Vision behind our Micro Loans Program

While designing our micro loans program in 2005, one of the questions we repeatedly asked ourselves was: what is our vision for this program? We wanted this program to do more than provide business training and loans to women in the community of Matero, in Lusaka, Zambia. After several discussions with community members and leaders, we decided that our vision for this program is to strengthen communities impacted by HIV/AIDS and malaria in an environment where unemployment rates are 67% or higher.

We set out to strengthen the community by empowering women who play the critical role of being primary caregivers to children and the sick in the community. As the program has matured and enters its eighth year, we are proud that the program has been successful in strengthening the community of Matero, in several ways. First, the women have transformed themselves from a state of "helplessness" to "independence" by running successful businesses.  All the women in our program are taking better care of their families via better nutrition, and most have been able to pay school expenses for their children. Many women have extended their homes for additional income via rent, many have expanded their existing businesses that were too small to be sustainable before they joined the program, and all have taken the first steps towards self-reliance. Second, the women have created and now belong to a strong social network so that they can mutually support one another in coping with HIV/AIDS, protecting and taking care of themselves, preventing HIV, and increasing their sense of overall empowerment. Finally, women whose children are enrolled in our pediatric HIV/AIDS care program have become confident about their ability to take care of their children, their future, and have become role models for both men and women in the community. 

How do we Empower Women?

In order to empower poor women, we provide business training before they receive a loan and ongoing support after the loan is provided. This increases the chances of success of their business. As a part of the business training, the women learn to (i) work together as a team, (ii) run a profitable business, (iii) become a responsible borrower, and (iv) develop relationships of mutual support with other women.  After completion of the business training, the women are provided ongoing support via weekly meetings, regular field visits to their businesses, and business advice on how to increase profits and sales via a better store design and display, tracking inventories and expenses. In addition, the women undergo refresher courses and peer training/mentoring sessions every few months.

Update on our Women Entrepreneurs

We now have 170 women running businesses in Lusaka, Zambia. A majority of the women are on track with repayments.

  • Out of 170 women, 145 women received their first loan in March of 2010 and they are expected to complete their third and final loan cycle by March 2013.Out of this group of 145 women, almost all have increased their capital, and 92 have increased their capital to more than the loan size.  
  • Almost half the women have been able to save an average amount of $130 for school expenses, medical needs, family projects like extension of homes etc.  
  • Nine children have been able to pay for college as a result of earnings by their moms from their businesses.
  • Eight women have been able to start a building project (addition/extension of a room), as a result of earnings from their businesses.

In addition, the 25 new women entrepreneurs who received loans in September 2012 are expected to complete their first loan cycle by April/May 2013 and will be eligible for a second loan. At this time, all 25 businesses are doing well.

Long term Impact of the Program

The long term impact of our micro loans program has enabled our women entrepreneurs to start planning, saving, and building a better future for themselves and their families. Each and every one of our woman entrepreneurs is battling difficult circumstances to provide for their families and keep their children healthy, and in school.  As a result of this program, they have built successful businesses, and have become role models and mentors for other men and women in the community. They encourage others in the community to go in for voluntary testing and counseling (VCT) to reduce the spread of HIV infection, start businesses, and take charge of their own lives. This leads to substantive ripple effects in the community beyond the program participants themselves. 

Thanks again for supporting poor women entrepreneurs start and grow a business and take the first steps towards self-reliance.

Have a wonderful Valentine's Day.

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We would like to say a big "Thank You" to you for supporting women entrepreneurs in Zambia. Your generous donations have helped our women entrepreneurs to start a business and make it grow, support themselves and their families, and take the first steps towards self-reliance.

Power of Love’s microloans program empowers women impacted by HIV/AIDS and helps them take the first steps towards self-reliance. You will be happy to know that we now have 170 women running businesses in Lusaka, Zambia. Women in our micro loans program are provided with loans, business training, and ongoing monitoring and business support from trained staff.  At this time, the 170 women entrepreneurs meet weekly with the loan officer, discuss issues related to their loans, children's health, schooling, HIV prevention, and how to improve their businesses. They are applying the basic principles of business by tracking sales, inventories, expenses, and keeping accounts daily. In addition, they are learning that a better store design and display leads to more sales and repeat customers. A majority of the women are on track with repayments.

About the Businesses: Out of 170 women, 145 women received their first loan in March of 2010 and they are expected to complete their third loan cycle by January 2013. From this group of 145 women, 81 have increased their capital and are well on their way to self-reliance. This group of 81 women encourages the other women in the program to work hard to improve sales from their businesses. In addition, the 25 new women entrepreneurs who received loans in September 2012 are expected to complete their first loan cycle by April/May 2013. Once they complete their first loan cycle, they will be eligible for a second loan. Typically, the businesses started with the loan funds are: (i) grocery items like dried fish, beans, rice, cooking pots, cups and plates, bananas, soft drinks, popcorn, charcoal, fresh fish, cup cakes, milk, sugar, tea, coffee, vegetables, fruits, peanut butter, fritters, (ii) books (mostly Bibles), (iii) clothing: school jerseys, used clothing, and (iv) shoes. In addition, a few women have purchased a small plot of land each to start building rooms and rent the rooms for income purposes.

Short term Impact of the Program: The businesses help provide for 850 children, as on average a woman cares for 5 or more children in her home. Also, as a result of earnings from these businesses, the health and nutrition of the family improves, parents and family members can pay for school expenses (books, shoes, school bag, uniforms), and the children can go back to school.

Long term Impact of the Program: The long-term impact of our micro loans program is to allow women to start planning, saving, and building a better future for themselves and their families. Each and every one of our woman entrepreneurs is a star as they are battling difficult circumstances to provide for their families and keep their children healthy, and in school. Most of them have built successful businesses, and have become role models and mentors for other women in the community. These role models/mentors encourage others in the community to go in for voluntary testing and counseling (VCT) to reduce the spread of HIV infection, start businesses, and take charge of their own lives. This leads to substantial positive impact on the community beyond the program participants themselves.  

Thanks.

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An Update on Power of Love's Project "Micro Loans for Women Impacted by HIV/AIDS in Zambia"

We would like to say a big "Thank You" to you for supporting women entrepreneurs in Zambia take the first steps towards self-reliance.

Power of Love’s microloans program empowers women impacted by HIV/AIDS and helps them become self-reliant. You will be happy to know that we were able to provide business training and small loans to 25 new women entrepreneurs in September 2012. These new women entrepreneurs meet weekly with the loan officer, discuss issues related to their loans, children's health, schooling, HIV prevention, and how to improve their businesses. They are applying the basic principles of business (learnt during business training last month) by tracking sales, inventories, expenses, and keeping accounts daily. In addition, they are learning that a better store design and display leads to more sales and repeat customers. They are on track with their loan repayments and should be able to complete their first loan cycle by April/May 2013 at which time they will be eligible for a second loan.

Some of the businesses started by the women include: (i) Grocery items like dried fish, beans, rice, cooking pots, cups and plates, bananas, soft drinks, popcorn, charcoal, fresh fish, cup cakes, milk, sugar, tea, coffee, vegetables, fruits, peanut butter, fritters, (ii) Books (mostly Bibles), (iii) Clothing: School jerseys, used clothing, and (iv) Shoes. These businesses will help provide for 125 children in school as on average a woman cares for 5 or more children in her home. The children can go back to school as a result of better nutrition and health and because their caregivers can now purchase school supplies (books, shoes, school bag, uniforms).

The long-term impact of our micro loans program is to allow women to start planning, saving, and building a better future for themselves and their families. Our women entrepreneurs take the first steps towards self-reliance, run thriving businesses and become role models and mentors for other women in the community.  The program has a substantial impact on the community beyond the program participants themselves as the women in our program encourage others in the community to go in for voluntary testing and counseling (VCT) for HIV, start businesses, and take charge of their own lives.

Meet Sharon, one of the women entrepreneurs in our loans program.

Sharon is 50 years old and takes care of her six grandchildren and three other dependents. Her husband stopped work five years ago and they were not able to provide for their family. She learnt about Power of Love's micro loans program from a friend who is a beneficiary of this program. Her friend asked her to join the program as one of her grandchildren was not well.

Once Sharon joined our program, she was given business training and a small loan to start a business selling fried chicken on the roadside. With earnings from her business, Sharon has been able to provide three meals for her family, and two of her grandchildren are back in school as she can pay for their school expenses. In addition, she has added two rooms to her house, so that she can supplement her income with rent. Sharon's business is doing well and she is on track with her loan repayments. She is happy and confident about her future.

Thanks again for your generous support and encouragement. With the addition of 25 new women, the total number of women entrepreneurs in our program has increased to 170.  Each and every one of these women  is a star as they are battling difficult circumstances to provide for their families and keep their children healthy and  in school. 

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Organization

Project Leader

Alka Subramanian

Founder/Director
San Diego, CA United States

Where is this project located?

Map of Micro Loans For Women Impacted by HIV/AIDS, Zambia