Pictured above: WomensTrust clients Nadiyatu (l) and Habibatu (c) with WomensTrust - Nsawam Program Director Priscilla Danso (r), on a recent Market Day in Nsawam.
MONDAY IS MARKET DAY in the town of Nsawam, a major trading hub in the mountainous Akwapim region of Ghana about an hour’s drive north of the country’s capital.
Earlier this year, WomensTrust opened a branch office in Nsawam to extend its microfinance program to the area’s burgeoning population of small traders who drive the local economy. Market Days are a weekly occurrence here, attracting thousands of people who crowd the streets and central marketplace to buy and sell goods of every kind, from foodstuffs to clothing to housewares: If you can’t find it in Nsawam, it probably hasn’t been made yet.
Nadiyatu Adama, 35, and Habibatu Mohammed, 33, are among the many small traders who travel by tro-tro from remote villages in the area to stock up on goods and supplies that they will bring back home and resell at a small mark-up to their own customers. Both women hail from the neighboring enclave of Esumia, where Nadiyatu makes a living selling porridge and Habibatu runs a small provisions shop. They wear the graceful shawls donned by married women in their community. Both of their husbands are farmers, and the women's businesses provide most of the family's income. Nadiyatu has three children, ages 3 to 15 and Habibatu has three sons and a daughter. While neither woman has ever attended school herself, they are proud that all of their school-aged children are enrolled in school.
This past June, Nadiyatu and Habibatu became clients of WomensTrust. Joining with three other women in their community to form a lending group, they then met with Priscilla Danso, WomensTrust Program Director in Nsawam, who evaluated their businesses and cash flow, and their ability to meet a repayment schedule.
Each woman then received a personal passbook and a first loan of 200 cedis (about $100). With her loan Nadiyatu was able to purchase larger quantities of corn and gari (coarsely milled flour made from cassava), the main ingredients used in porridge, a typical meal served at breakfast. Habibatu used her loan to buy pricier items like tissue paper and powdered milk to add to her inventory.
Their extra buying power resulted in an immediate increase in their profits, which enabled each woman to quickly repay her loan in full and become eligible for a second, higher loan of 400 cedis (about $200).
Loans provided by WomensTrust have enabled Nadiyatu and Habibatu to become regular weekly shoppers on Market Day and loyal customers of other women who ply their trade in Nsawam’s marketplace. Nadiyatu makes a point of buying her flour from another WomensTrust client, whom she recently met at a group orientation meeting for all of our new loan clients in Nsawam. In that way WomensTrust creates a multiplier effect with every woman we serve, not only strengthening her individual purchasing power but also contributing to the profitability of other clients’ and women’s businesses in the community.
We met many of our more than 200 clients in Nsawam on a recent Market Day:
Pictured below: (1) Women doing business with women--Wholesaler Mercy Ntim (l) does a brisk business with customers like Nadiyatu (c) and Habibatu (r), who stop by her kiosk every Monday on Nsawam’s Market Day to purchase bulk quantities of dry goods like biscuits, powdered milk and paper products.
(2) Felicia Nyarko sells second-hand clothing on one of the busy throroughfares in Nsawam. The mother of 3 children, she is able to pay for her children's school fees from her business profits. Felicia has received three small loans (ranging from $100-150) from WomensTrust to purchase jeans and other contemporary fashions to add to her inventory.
(3) Mary dreams of opening her own stand-alone shop in town. She currently operates from a small kiosk in Nsawam's central food market where she stocks rice, canned tomatoes and a variety of spices.
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