Empower 600 Women in Ghana with Microcredit Loans

by Self-Help International
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Empower 600 Women in Ghana with Microcredit Loans
Empower 600 Women in Ghana with Microcredit Loans
Empower 600 Women in Ghana with Microcredit Loans
Empower 600 Women in Ghana with Microcredit Loans
Empower 600 Women in Ghana with Microcredit Loans
Empower 600 Women in Ghana with Microcredit Loans
Empower 600 Women in Ghana with Microcredit Loans
Empower 600 Women in Ghana with Microcredit Loans
Empower 600 Women in Ghana with Microcredit Loans
Empower 600 Women in Ghana with Microcredit Loans
Empower 600 Women in Ghana with Microcredit Loans
Empower 600 Women in Ghana with Microcredit Loans
Empower 600 Women in Ghana with Microcredit Loans
Empower 600 Women in Ghana with Microcredit Loans
Empower 600 Women in Ghana with Microcredit Loans
Empower 600 Women in Ghana with Microcredit Loans
Empower 600 Women in Ghana with Microcredit Loans
Empower 600 Women in Ghana with Microcredit Loans
Empower 600 Women in Ghana with Microcredit Loans
Empower 600 Women in Ghana with Microcredit Loans
Empower 600 Women in Ghana with Microcredit Loans
Sarah, leader of the Juaben Palm Oil Processors
Sarah, leader of the Juaben Palm Oil Processors

A group of palm oil processors at Juaben are poised to enhance their trade by expanding the land on which they now operate with the assistance of loans from the Micro Credit Program being implemented by Self Help International in some rural areas of the Ashanti Region of Ghana.

Fifty-five-year-old Sarah, leader of the group, expressed her interest in expanding the land on which they are currently carrying out their activities to allow the present group members to broaden their activities and also pave the way for more women to join the group.

Sarah, a mother of six, was instrumental in the acquisition of the land on which the 30-member strong group of women are now located.

She started receiving loans from the Micro Credit Program three years ago with an initial amount of 1,000 GHC cedis.

However, following her desire for members of the group to expand their activities, she requested for a loan to acquire a machine that would speed up their work but the group was required to secure the land on which they operate to make the installation of the machine feasible.

Consequently, with the assistance of a loan from the Micro Credit Program, Sarah was able to secure ownership of the land by paying the required  amount of money to the local authorities in charge of land administration in her community.

“I received a loan of 10,000 GHC to which I added 16,000 GHC to acquire the one plot of land on which we are working at the cost of 26,000 GHC.

But after securing the land, Sarah realized that one plot of land was too small for the expansion of the palm oil processing business as she had envisaged.

“I am to acquire a second plot to ensure that the working space is large and spacious to provide enough room to support all the various steps involved in palm oil processing. I enjoy palm oil processing, hence I always try to do all in my power to enhance our work,” she said.

“We need a large piece of land so that all the women will have enough room to conduct their activities. We also need to be able to provide essential services like restrooms to create a comfortable working environment for the women.”

“Apart from the machine, we need to acquire new tanks for processing the nuts. These tanks are more voluminous than the iron pots we are currently using and will allow us to process large quantities of nuts at the same time.”

Sarah is optimistic about the future success of the palm oil processing business saying, “Palm oil processing is lucrative. All the women in the group are able to pay back their loans. Working with the Micro-Credit Program has been a big blessing to all of us”

“We provide a source of income for those who come to assist us in many ways. We have some men who work on the palm fruits to make it easier to access the nuts. Some men also help in crushing the cooked nuts in addition to the manual extraction of the oil from the nuts. A number of women also come to help with the removal  of the nuts from the fruit for a fee”

For Sarah, ensuring that the oil that she produces is of optimal quality is very important to the business. 

“We are careful with our oil processing and produce very high quality palm oil. We do not add any additives. If a company should conduct a quality test on our oil, they will realize it is genuine and free of additives.”

For the next steps in her business, Sarah will be happy to be assured of a ready market, saying, “I will be happy if we can be linked to companies that use palm oil as a raw material to enable us to have ready customers for our produce.” 

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Adutwumwaa is happy about her house
Adutwumwaa is happy about her house

When 55-year-old Adutwumwaa and her husband purchased a plot of land 15 years ago, they had no idea how they could ever construct a building on their plot.

 Adutwumwaa, a mother of four from Bedabour in the Ashanti Region of Ghana, was running a small catering business which involved frying pastries and preparing porridge made from wheat for sale which brought her limited profit since her business was very small.

However, two years later, in the year 2010, her business took a  turn for the better when she received a loan of 50 GHC from the Micro Credit Scheme being run by Self Help International.

“I invested the loan in my business and expanded it. After I paid back my loan, I took a second loan of 100 GHC which I paid back again.”

 Adutwumwaa said she has always been loyal in paying back her loans and kept on taking loans on a regular basis.

Due to the trust the scheme had in her, they were able to loan her bigger amounts of money and she in turn kept on expanding her business because her products were in high demand.

“The last time I took a loan from the Micro Credit Scheme, I asked for an amount of 3,500 GHC and I received it. Whenever I pay back my loan, I invest the rest of my profit in my plot by acquiring  building  materials."

So little by little, over a period of 13 years, Madam Adutwumwaa and her husband gradually put up a seven-room house on their plot. The building is now almost complete and has been roofed.

However, as her catering business continued to grow, the demands of her business in terms of labor and inputs began to take its toll.

“The price of oil kept on rising as a result of inflation until it reached a point where my profits started to dwindle drastically and my catering business was no longer lucrative. In addition, the work involved was taking its toll on me; I realized I no longer had the strength to work as I used to so I decided to change my business.”

Adutwumwaa thus ended her catering business and purchased a fufu-pounding Machine at the cost of 1,500 GHC to start a second business of providing fufu-pounding services to members of the Bedabour Community.

“I am the only person with a fufu-pounding machine at Bedabour. I have customers coming to my shop to pound their fufu everyday with the exception of the short period when cassava is in short supply. It is only during this period that customers do not come daily.

She praised the Micro Credit Scheme for enabling her to build her dream house by supporting her with loans to expand her catering business and also to acquire a fufu-pounding machine and was confident that she will be able to put all the finishing touches to her house in due course. 

She called on SHI to continue with the Micro Credit Scheme which has been of immense  support to  women in her community  since it has made a big impact on their lives.

Adutwumwaa also stressed the need for the scheme to increase the amount of loans being given to clients in view of the ongoing inflation in the country which has made the prices of goods and services very high.

 

Adutwumwaa in front of her house
Adutwumwaa in front of her house
Adutwumwaa's fufu-pounding machine
Adutwumwaa's fufu-pounding machine
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Comfort in her shop
Comfort in her shop

Meet Comfort, a forty-seven year old mother of five from Nkontomire. Comfort joined the program in 2019. At that time, she was a food vendor who was struggling to make ends meet.

“The kids' school fees was draining my business. I could barely cater for food; savings was a luxury I could not afford. The first child had completed senior high school and I needed to send him to college but the means wasn’t there. The two after him had also entered high school. Things were difficult. I was not making enough profit from the food vending business so along the way, we started using the capital until I was almost out of business.”

Just when Comfort thought she had come to her wits end, SHI showed up and gave her a new hope; something to hold on to.

“A friend introduced me to the Microcredit Program, so one day, I followed her to one of their training sessions. The ladies were so warm and receptive and they behaved as if they knew exactly what my problem was and the solution to it. I joined one of the existing groups and since I had every intention of working with them for a long time, I was diligent in my loan repayment. After a year and half of working with them, my business started picking up. It was a good sign for me, I had a renewed hope.”

Comfort is not just resilient, she’s a mother who is willing to go beyond the status quo for her kids and the family. She had other things in mind.

“During a training session, the officer encouraged us to look around our community to identify something that is  missing so that we can invest in it and own it so I told myself, this is my time to shine! I had witnessed how the people from my community needed an over the counter medicine seller. They always traveled to the next village or any of the surrounding villages for simple medicines like pain killers and  first aids. I wanted to open a shop like that to help myself and the community, but the capital to start was the problem. I spoke with the officers about it and they thought it was laudable so they provided the working capital.”

Today, Comfort is not just a food vendor but also, an over the counter medicine seller who is meeting the needs of the people of Nkontomire and the surrounding villages and farmsteads.  She has also been able to send her first son to college. She is now preparing to send the other two who have completed high school as well because the medicine shop is doing well and generating more income.

“My life would have been better than it is now if I had met the SHI Microcredit Team earlier, but it is better late than never.”

Gifts to this project made on November 29, will go even further thanks to GlobalGiving's GivingTuesday Incentive Fund! Donate now to increase the impact of your gift of clean water for rural communities.

 

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Mary in her shop
Mary in her shop

Meet Mary, a 28 year old mother of 3. She is from Abompe, a community in the Ashanti Region of Ghana where SHI works. Mary joined Self-Help’s microcredit program in late 2019. Prior to her joining the program, she was farming with her husband and would occasionally embark on trading activities in the surrounding villages, which wasn’t always successful.

Mary had the privilege of attending a senior high school, but dropped out in her second year.

 “I attended senior high school for a year and half, but in my second year, I had to drop out because my parents couldn’t afford my school expenses. After leaving school, there wasn’t much to do and I resorted to early marriage”

After marriage, Mary and her husband became farmers.

 “The pain of tasting being in school and dropping out eventually was unbearable, I didn’t want to do anything, farming was the last thing I wanted to do but there wasn’t an option. I didn’t have capital to start anything meaningful and I had already given birth to my second child. Things were difficult and I didn’t know what to do”

During a microcredit training session at Beposo, Mary and about four other women approached the program officers and expressed interest in the program. The MC team took them through the trainings and eventually they received their first loan of Ghc 200 (approximately USD 40) in October 2019.

“When I received that money, I had a new hope. I told myself that I was going to turn things around and make something out of my life. I especially paid attention to the savings and business management lessons. I had a mission to become a business owner and be able to support my kids’ education, so I ventured into selling to the neighboring communities. I kept saving and repaying my loans at the same time. It was difficult combining it with farming but I was determined to make it work”

Now, in a period of three years, through consistent training, regular supply of loans, and periodic monitoring, Mary has been able to establish herself in the community, trading in commodities that are difficult to come by at Abompe. She maintains a fully stocked shop - the only one at Abompe.

“When I look back to 2018, before I heard about your program, my case seemed almost hopeless, but you came in and gave all of us here hope, a new found hope that everything is possible if only we are willing to work on it. Now, I can confidently say, I will fight and win the battle my parents couldn’t win, although they were fighting really hard. My kids haven’t started schooling yet, because of the distance they have to cover from here to the closest village with a school- either Beposo, Abasua or Bonkwaso- and that is my major worry now. There is no school here. Nevertheless, I am still preparing and saving towards the time they can properly enroll. Until then, I will continue to apply all the business management practices lessons you offer. They really help if you go by it. I feel strong, confident, and independent again- the same feeling I had when I started school at the senior high.”

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Adisatu Ali is a mother of five from Bedabour. She is a sharecropper who lives on the cocoa farm with her family. Adisa is a mother who is passionate about her children’s education; and for that she is willing to do even the impossible to ensure that they are in school.

“I didn’t have the opportunity to be enrolled in any formal education, it was only my brothers who went to school, and the bitterness is with me even today, so I vowed to enroll all my children in school, especially the girls, to compensate for my own misfortune," Adisatu said.

She was introduced to the microcredit program through mutual friends at Bedabour eight years ago and for her, that wasn’t only an opportunity to grow or expand her business, but to also fulfill a lifelong wish: putting all her children in school.

 ”The bigger chunk of the loans I took went directly into my children’s education, especially my daughter who is also the first born. Even though I don’t know much, I do know the right education would enhance the quality of life by offering them varieties of options to choose from, and as a mother that was very important to me,” she added.

“You see where our cottage is, we are not within the Bedabour community itself, but on the outskirts of Bedabour, within the farm we are cultivating," she said. "Raising kids there is difficult, especially with their education - no electricity to study with, no proper water source - but I made them understand my plans for them and their need to be committed and persevere. I told my daughters the future I wanted for them; not ending up as sharecroppers like me but becoming something better in life.”

Adisatu has worked very hard to support her children and instill these beliefs. Her first daughter entered the nursing training college last month and she couldn’t hide her joy.  She shared, “Self-Help was with me from her junior high school days. Through the loans, I was able to provide their needs for school. I was particular about my first daughter because I wanted her to set a good example for the rest to follow, and now, she has made me glad. Even though it is not over yet, I feel accomplished, I am satisfied. You have again supported me with another loan for her college education which I’m very grateful for. The life I want for them has started taking shape and it’s all thanks to Self-Help. And because of this, I know my family situation will change; a time will come that we will not live on the farm again. Now the little ones are also inspired to study hard and get out of this place and I know for sure that when the time comes, Self Help will help me yet again because with Self Help, no matter where you are, your dreams will always matter! Just show them your commitment and zeal to help yourself!”

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Self-Help International

Location: Waverly, IA - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @SelfHelpIntl
Project Leader:
Nora Tobin
Waverly , IA United States
$92,570 raised of $110,000 goal
 
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