Felicia in front of her new home.
“This organization is a wealth creation organization. When you become part of it, whatever you touch prospers and your children become well-off. Even the people around you flourish. It’s just contagious and very holistic!” - Self-Help Micro-Credit Program beneficiary, Felicia.
63-year-old Felicia is a resident of Bedaabour in the Ashanti region of Ghana. She is a mother of five and a farmer. Felicia has been with the Self-Help International Micro-Credit Program for the past ten years. Felicia missed learning about the program during its first visit to Bedaabour, and mutual friends briefed her afterward about the introductory meeting.
“My response when I learned about the micro-credit program was an outright, ‘No, no way!’” Felicia said. “I even tried to discourage the women who had signed up, but Maame Kokroko [the woman who brought Self-Help Ghana staff to the community] said we should just try to take out a loan once. If it didn’t work, we would quit; so, I reluctantly joined, and my start up loan was 200 GHS (approx. $37 USD).”
Felicia invested her first loan into her farming. This investment enabled her to access more farming land, which helped her increase her crop yields. She was able to use her increased income for her family, and three of Felicia’s children were able to enroll in the senior high school two years after she joined the micro-credit program.
”Previously, it was very difficult for my husband and me to take care of three boys at a time. Thanks to the loan I was receiving on a regular basis, we were able to support them through their education,” Felicia said. “They all want to be police officers; one has already gained admission into the Police Academy. The remaining two are also hopeful.”
In 2015, Self-Help trained the women in Bedaabour in soap making as a part of enterprise development.
“I needed extra income for my family, so I paid attention during the training. Self-Help helped set me up when I decided to take on the challenge of soap making. The business flourished so much that people from the neighboring communities came to buy from me on a wholesale and retail basis,” Felicia said.
“In 2016, business was doing really well and more people were purchasing my soap. My husband and I decided to acquire a plot of land in Sepaase, a suburb of Abuakwa near the city of Kumasi. We want to move the family from Bedaabour to the city in the future, so we bought land closer to the city.
“We have been able to put up an eight-bedroom house. Even though only three of the rooms are totally complete for living, it has been roofed entirely. Hopefully, by the end of 2020, the entire building will be ready for our family,” Felicia said.
Now, Felicia takes loans of 3,000 GHS (approx. $550 USD), which she reinvests in her soap making and farming businesses. She has also introduced the micro-credit program to other people, including her two sisters and their three daughters in a different community where Self-Help Ghana operates.
“I can handle large sums of money because Self-Help has taught me how to save and not mishandle my money. I have introduced two of my younger sisters and their daughters, and now they are better off than before,” Felicia said. “One of them has even bought a piece of land in the city of Kumasi. She hasn’t started building yet, but I know she will build along the way.”
“I would have never forgiven myself if I had let the opportunity to join the micro-credit program pass by me. What I like most about this program is that, if you are diligent in the loan repayment, it is assured that the amount loan will be increased in the next disbursement,” Felicia said.
“I also like that, if I use the money for the reason I took the loan, Self-Help’s staff will help me if I have an emergency or fall on hard times and need flexibility with my loan repayment,” Felicia said.
“Self-Help has helped us women feed and take care of our families. It has given us hope, and I feel empowered,” Felicia said. “I hope Self-Help can reach more women like me and give them something to live for - like Self-Help has done for me. The other women and I are forever grateful.”
Love to support Self-Help International? Then make sure to participate in the 2020 Girl Fund from Mar. 6-13 and vote for Self-Help's Teen Girls Club with a $10 donation! Terms, conditions, and details can be found here, and keep your eye out for more information next week!