Madiha,* a Cairo widowed mother of two longed to make something of herself after years of struggle following her husband’s death. With two children enrolled in Coptic Orphans’ Not Alone program, Madiha began thinking of what resources she could provide to help in raising her children and taking care of their educational expenses.
Madiha passed several tailor shops in her village and as she walked by often wondered to herself whether she could ever become a business woman, utilizing her sewing skills with the one sewing machine she owned.
Through the visits of the field staff to Madiha’s home, she learned about the Be’daya project. She discussed with the staff how she was thinking about developing a tailoring project of her own. The staff were curious to see if Madiha could follow through with her plans and obtain customers. In fact, Madiha wanted to prove she was capable, so put her idea into action by sewing bedsheets and clothes that would be ready for the staff to see by their next scheduled visit. Because of her determination and follow-through, the staff were impressed and Madiha’s application for a micro-finance loan was approved. Madiha now had the resources to purchase two brand-new sewing machines.
Madiha not only was able to produce more items out of better quality with the help of the extra machines, but she also created a new line of products for sale. Madiha sewed blankets, bed-coverings for children, and bus and car chair-covers. Although she had more sewing machines than when she first began, Madiha especially valued the quality of her work over the quantity of production.
Within 4 years, Madiha had networked with whoever she met and marketed her business throughout town. Her new customers were happy with the quality of items they purchased from Madiha, and with time, she grew in popularity and referrals. Madiha also reached out to bus companies in the tourism industry and various clothing factories to expand her clientele reach.
Madiha is currently doing well for herself and has grown into a self-sufficient business woman due to the success of her sewing project and her determination to succeed. Her children are also no longer in need of the Not Alone program’s support as Madiha is able to provide for all their financial needs.
Since the inception of the Coptic Orphans Be’daya program, around 50% (78 out of 117) of participating widowed mothers have continued to maintain their businesses. Businesses are classified as: retail (grocery, household supplies, cattle fodder, livestock breeding); production (dairy products), and services (upholstery, ironing, photography, hairdressing, etc.).
A fourth round of Be’daya was announced during the Coptic Orphans Reps Summer Conference in July 2019. 156 mothers submitted applications and proposals for projects. From this number, 92 mothers were shortlisted, and 47 projects have been selected to receive the micro-finance loans for 2020.
*Name and image changed to protect the privacy and dignity of the individual.