SHI- Fund 200 Women's Micro-Credit Loans in Ghana

by Self-Help International
ED Nora Tobin giving out an award to Olivia
ED Nora Tobin giving out an award to Olivia

What a wonderful few months of milestones it has been for women in Ghana!  Micro-credit officers Victoria and Elizabeth have been working hard to celebrate leadership and promote self-sufficiency by linking women to commercial banks, a feat that has taken time.

Many women have made tremendous progress as local businesswomen, so we took some time to celebrate their accomplishments by hosting the first ever Women’s Leadership Summit, which was held at Calvary Methodist Church.  Micro-credit beneficiaries from the communities of Abompe, Asuogya, Bedaabour, Beposo, Kwamedwaa, Afari/Nerebehi, Kwaso, Nkawie, Adagya, and Worapong were brought together to interact, share experiences, business ideas, and exchange contacts together under one roof. Nearly 100 of the 400 women in the micro-credit program were in attendance.  Outstanding leaders including Olivia from Kwaso and Abena from Beposo shared their success stories with the attendees. Outstanding groups and individuals were awarded with certificates of honor to recognize their leadership, dedication, commitment and problem-solving abilities. Each participant was given a T-shirt to thank them, and help advertise the micro-credit program.  The Women’s Leadership Summit challenged groups who have not yet been recognized to step up their performances. Some of the groups have reshuffled and elected new leaders with the hope to win additional awards at the next summit. 

Leadership is important to building a strong community, and so is access to resources, especially for rural women.  If women farmers had the same access to productive resources as men, including training, education, and capital, there would be 150 million fewer hungry people in the world.  It’s a staggering figure to consider, and the very goal that the Self-Help International Women’s Micro-Credit Program is working toward. Self-Help invests in the future of women by providing training, access to loans, and follow up advising to women so they can start up and expand their businesses, generate income, and better provide for their families. 

In addition to the successful Women’s Leadership Summit, the micro-credit program reached a milestone that has been elusive for four years: all 59 women from Kwaso and Timeabu have now opened accounts with the Agricultural Development Bank. Bank identification cards as well as check books have been issued to them. Some of the women have already made deposits into their savings accounts. Approximately 98% of these women have bank accounts for the first time in their lives.

Women
Women's Leadership Summit Group Picture
Group from Kwaso showing their check books
Group from Kwaso showing their check books
Group at Timeabu displaying their cheque books
Group at Timeabu displaying their cheque books
Lucy selling food in her community.
Lucy selling food in her community.

Lucy is 38 and hails from the northern sector of Ghana. She migrated to the southern sector with her husband in search of greener pastures. Lucy's husband, Kwame, is a farmer and laborer at Bedaabour. They have two children, Ebenezer, who is an eleven-year-old in fourth grade at Bedaabour District Assembly basic school and Isaac, an eight-month-old.

Lucy has been active in the micro-credit program since 2012. When asked about how she joined the Self-Help International (SHI) micro-credit program, Lucy answered “It was through close friends and relatives.” Her first loan was GHC150 (approximately $50), which she invested in her petty trading business. Starting out, she sold groceries on tables but later on she built her own wooden kiosk/stall. To generate additional income to better support her family, Lucy diversified her business and now sells prepared food in her village square daily.

When they first arrived to Bedaabour, Lucy and her family moved to every few months in search of adequate housing. The ongoing search for a suitable shelter continued until a relative offered them a vacant room. Lucy explained to SHI that it is not a decent place for human habitation, but her and her family had no other choice.

Now that Lucy is able to contribute financially towards the upkeep of the children, their home is a more peaceful place with fewer financial stresses. Little by little, Lucy and her husband saved up and secured a piece of land at Bedaabour to put up their own home for the first time since migrating south. They are currently constructing a two-bedroom house where their family will live peacefully, no longer worrying about where they'll move next. 

Lucy plans to invest her next loan in completing their new house, so she and her family can finally move into more dignified living standards. Lucy and her family will enjoy maximum peace once they move into their new home. Ebenezer will have peace and quiet to concentrate on his homework. They will have their privacy living in their own home and, at last, have their own space to spend time together as a family.

There will also be enough space in their future home to allow them to each sleep under insecticide-treated mosquito nets. This will reduce incidents of malaria in the family, especially among the two children. With reduced cases of malaria in the family, Lucy will spend less time seeking treatment for family members at the hospital, freeing up more time for her business. This gift of increased time will translate into more productive hours at work and greater profit, as well as improved overall finances. Lucy told SHI that this extra income will be spent on her children’s education, and that SHI has made it easier to take proper care of her first priority, her children.

After 15 years of marriage, Lucy is a more supportive wife, a prouder mother, and happier spirit than ever before. She is grateful to SHI and its donors for the support extended to her. This is the transformation the micro-credit program brings into the lives of its beneficiaries: financial empowerment. With access to training and loans, women contribute to the upkeep of the home, earn respect from their husbands, and are better able to support their children and their children’s education. Thank you for your support.  Your donations will help more women like Lucy transform their lives and live with the dignity that all humans deserve. 

Lucy at her stall.
Lucy at her stall.
Lucy pictured at her current place of stay.
Lucy pictured at her current place of stay.
Lucy, Isaac, Kwame and Ebenezer
Lucy, Isaac, Kwame and Ebenezer
Lucy and her nearly complete new 2-bedroom home
Lucy and her nearly complete new 2-bedroom home
Ama & her nephew attend to a customer at her store
Ama & her nephew attend to a customer at her store

Ama is a forty-five year old single mother of three. In addition to caring for her own children, she has taken on the added responsibility of caring for her late sister’s four children.  Having observed how Self-Help’s micro-credit program had impacted on women in her community, Nkawie, she applied to join the program and has seen her life transformed.

Ama tells Self-Help that before joining the micro-credit program, she used to sell charcoal, Kenkey (a cornmeal product) and vegetables on her head as she trekked from one community to another. She made little or no profits at the end of the day and she could not invest any of the money she earned to expand her business since she had many mouths to feed in addition to paying the childrens’ school fees and medical bills. Ama regrets her inability to go to school which she attributes to the neglect of her polygamous father and the fact that she comes from a large family of eleven children of which she is the youngest. It has always been her dream to give to her children quality education and a descent accommodation; something she never had.

With training, micro-loans, hard work and perseverance, Ama was able to expand her business and now has a shop of her own in which she sells groceries and other items. Business is good: Ama consistently make a profit and the family’s finances have significantly improved. Her eldest son, Prince who is 27 years old is completing the final year of his Bachelor’s program at the University and her daughter, Agnes, who is 24 years old, has successfully completed nurses’ training college and about to be stationed at her first job. Ama’s youngest child is now in 4th grade.

With pride and joy, Ama is building a two-story house, a project many consider overly ambitious. She admits it is an uphill task but has a reason; by building upwards instead of outwards, she can save land and use the space as a foundation for her children to build on. “Wherever I get to, my children will someday continue,” she concludes. It is inspiring to learn that she is making these investments not only for herself but for the generations yet unborn.

Every little support given to women like Ama benefiting from the micro-credit program will certainly trickle down to benefit many generations and improve livelihoods of disadvantaged people today and for years to come. Thank you for your generosity in helping us help Ama and more women like her to make this difference for their children and grandchildren.

Sheltering her family: Ama
Sheltering her family: Ama's new home

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Ama and gas oven purchased with SHI loan
Ama and gas oven purchased with SHI loan

In many advanced countries there are homes for the aged where old people are sent to receive special care. There are no such homes in Ghana and many aged Ghanaians go through difficult times before their death. Women, sometimes are accused of being witches when blessed with many years, they are abandoned and left to die miserably.

Ama is 33 years old and a mother. She has three children; a daughter who is 12 years and two sons, 9 years and 10 months old. Her first two children are from her previous marriage from which she learnt good marital lessons; it pays to be a working mother who contributes financially towards her children’s education and general upbringing; a mother should not be a burden to her husband due to joblessness. This is inspiring in the face of the fact that one-third of girls in the developing world are married before the age of 18 and 1 in 9 are married before the age of 15 (http://www.icrw.org/child-marriage-facts-and-figures). Unlike other girls who are given out in marriages after basic school, Ama did petty jobs and later had the opportunity to train in pastry making.

Over the years, Ama prepared and sold pastries near a bus station at Nkawie Panin in the Atwima Nwabiagya District. Business was not encouraging because her working capital was small. In October 2012, she became a beneficiary of SHI micro credit program and received a loan of 200 Ghanaian Cedis (about $50). She invested the money in her business and she was able to pay back the loan on time. With her savings and subsequent loans she purchased a gas oven.

Currently, she takes large orders on occasions such as school graduations, weddings, naming ceremonies, and funerals. As her business expands and her profits increase she comfortably takes good care of her children; provides food, pays schools fees and medicals bills.

In December 2014, Ama successfully built a metal container with her savings to use as a shop and with a loan of 1,000 cedis (about $250) from SHI she purchased a chest freezer and now sells soft drinks, bottled and sachet water. Ama receives a lot of assistance from her aging mother at her new shop. While she goes around selling her pastries her mother manages the shop. She is excited to have found something which gives her additional income and also keeps her mother active to increase her days on earth.

Ama contributes significantly towards keeping the house and earns a lot of respect from her husband and community. Her mother is extremely proud of her and thankful as well. Ama tells SHI there is a lot of love and happiness in her family and she will forever be thankful to Self-Help International for the support.

Your donation has helped women, like Ama, to expand their businesses and provide for their families. Thank you for your continued support.

Ama and her new chest freezer
Ama and her new chest freezer
Ama in her new store.
Ama in her new store.

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Ayishetu in front of her partly completed house
Ayishetu in front of her partly completed house

Through micro loans, Ayishetu, a beneficiary of the SHI micro-loans program is able to change her social status; lives a decent life, provides medical care, food, clothing, shelter and education for her family. Ayishetu’s story is one of many successes the SHI micro-finance program has chalked.

THE TRANSFORMATION

Ayishetu is a 55-year old married woman with four (4) children. She is a native of Timeabu in the Ashanti Region of Ghana, where she works with her husband on farming and has started up her own petty trading businesses. Thanks to her hard work, dedication, and some support from Self-Help, she is achieving her dream for her children to live better lives and achieve better economic status than she was able to.

Before meeting Self-Help, Ayishetu was a farmer, and all six family members lived in a single room thatched house. Privacy was a luxury and her children could hardly do any private studies after school. School grades were bad. They had one treated bed net to sleep under to prevent malaria, but the congestion in the bedroom made it impossible to use. Malaria was common among her children and she spent many otherwise productive hours at the clinic seeking treatment for a sick child instead. This had adverse effects on her income.

Ayishetu joined the SHI micro-loans program in 2012, and is currently on her fifth loan of GHC 350 ($100) to be repaid over six months. After completing the training in 2012, she received her first loan of GHC 150 ($42), which she used to add petty trading on to her farming business as an additional source of income. Subsequent loans went to expand the business, and profits invested in children’s school fees and to build a new house.

Her new home, a two-bedroom house, is coming up fast. One bedroom is ready and occupied. With this, she hopes to improve the health, safety and comfort of her family.

Successfully, Ayishetu’s three oldest sons have been able to complete apprenticeships in mechanics, masonry and electric work. The oldest of Ayishetu’s sons is 26 years and lives in Tarkwa in the Western Region of Ghana. The three younger ones live with her at Timeabu. The second son, with his expertise in masonry provided free labour for their new house. Her youngest son is fifteen (15) and in junior high school class 1 (7th grade). In the new house, he will have space to do private studies and better his grades. There is joy in the house of Ayishetu.

Though Ayishetu is making some progress, there are challenges confronting her. She tells SHI, as she travels on foot from one community to another selling her ware, rain occasionally comes unannounced and walking long distances is having adverse consequences on her aging feet. However, she is not overly disturbed and believes that nothing good comes easy. She is ready to work even harder to make life better and worthwhile for herself and her family.

Continuous access to micro loans tailored to alleviate hunger in rural Ghana will create a better future for people such as Ayishetu and her children. Thank you for your support.

Ayishetu and her three sons
Ayishetu and her three sons
Ayishetu
Ayishetu's old home

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Organization Information

Self-Help International

Location: Waverly, IA - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.selfhelpinternational.org
Project Leader:
Nora Tobin
Executive Director
Waverly, IA United States