Felicia the pottery maker!
Felicia is a 56-year-old mother pottery maker from Afari, Ghana. She has five children: two of them are teachers, two are practicing nurses, and one is training to be a nurse. She has been partnering with Self-Help International’s Women’s Empowerment Program since 2006 and joined the program through the recommendation of her friends.
Felcia’s work as a potter is capital intensive because of the materials she uses and the fact that she always buys in bulk. She shared with Self-Help’s staff about how she used to take loans for her business from other lenders before she began partnering with Self-Help’s program.
“I had been taking loans from other sources because I was so determined to be successful in my business and give my children quality education,” Felicia said. “But I realized along the way that I was so overwhelmed with debt. Sometimes, I even had to borrow from one place to offset the other loans.”
“It was like this until a family friend introduced me to the Self-Help’s program,” Felicia added. She shared how a payment plan helped her manage her loan from Self-Help, and talked about how she invested her loans.
“I wasn’t sure how different this loan would be from the other ones I had taken; but, my first daughter was about entering nursing school, so I needed money more than ever,” Felicia said.
Self-Help provides loans on a 6-month repayment plan, but the team is flexible with each business owner to determine what makes sense for them, their family, and their business.
“I was intrigued by the systematic payment plan that Self-Help put in place,” Felicia said. “My first loan was very disappointing because it was lower than the kind of amounts I was used to getting from other lenders, but I liked the payment plan. It afforded me time to invest the money into my business before the repayment started.”
“Whenever I received the money, I made sure to buy the materials I needed for my pottery before I purchased anything else - things like clay and firewood,” Felicia said.
In addition to receiving much needed financial capital, Felicia attended business training sessions run by Self-Help’s staff. Self-Help always provides education and training as an integral part of the Women’s Empowerment Program.
“One of the things I enjoyed most was the basic business skill training that came with the loans,” Felicia said. “I learned about topics like credit management, savings, and record keeping.”
“In my line of work, the information about how many pots you make and sell in a month should be at your fingertips. This information helps to keep track of your progress and creditors, and this should be done on a daily basis,” Felicia said.
“The savings and credit management lessons were very relevant and helpful,” Felicia added. “With my previous lending, I didn’t know how to manage it, which caused my indebtedness.”
The ultimate goal of Self-Help International is to alleviate hunger by helping people help themselves, and helping mothers give their children a quality education is an integral component to helping people break the poverty chain.
“I am most grateful for all the assistance for my children’s education,” Felicia said. “When I joined the program, my first daughter had just entered the nursing training college. My kids are very close in age, so it was very difficult enrolling all of them in school. [Self-Help was] there with me through it all.”
“Sometimes, I visited the staff because I needed money for the kids’ school; and even when I didn’t qualify for another loan, Self-Help still worked with me so I could afford their education,” Felicia added. “Now all of them except the youngest one are financially independent. In a year’s time, the younger one will also graduate and be independent.”
“I have achieved my dream of raising scholars in my home, and Self-Help worked with me to make that happen.”
Felicia working with her pots.