Mary, 25, was orphaned at five years old, and had to drop out of school after sixth grade because there was no one to pay her school fees (education is free only through sixth grade in Malawi). She started doing what she called “casual labor” — project work like cleaning and sewing — until she was married at 15 years old. She and her husband Humphreys have three boys aged eight, six and three. They live in a very poor rural village a half-hour away from Opportunity’s bank branch in Mulanje, which in turn is an hour away from Blantyre.
Mary and her husband started a used clothing business six years ago but it didn’t produce enough income to meet their needs. The family struggled to put three meals on the table, and lived with relatives because they couldn’t afford a home of their own. Then Mary heard about Opportunity International on the radio and from other Opportunity clients, and applied for her first Trust Group loan of 30,000 kwacha (US$200) to buy more used clothing to sell in the market. She was able to repay her loan within five months.
She is now on her fifth loan of 30,000 kwacha. Today, she purchases new clothing in Blantyre, loads it onto a bicycle and then crosses the border with an employee to sell it in Mozambique where there is less competition. She has also diversified into selling her home-grown maize and produce in the Mathambi Trading Center, and rents out 10 two-bedroom homes that she owns.
- Written by Opportunity employee Cynthis Greenwood
To learn more about Mary's inspirational story visit http://www.opportunity.org/blog/my-meeting-in-malawi-with-inspiration-and-microfinance-success-story-mary/.
In Blantyre, Malawi, dozens of women sell potatoes in the marketplace. But Grace Msowoya and her business partner Betty Louhana stand out. Frustrated by their small profit margins, they became the first women to take the bold move of becoming distributors themselves. Every two weeks, they withdraw money from their Opportunity savings to rent a truck. They hire a driver and spend several days on the road to get potatoes directly from farmers, which they then sell to other vendors.
In recent news, Opportunity Malawi is partnering with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) to provide access to microfinance services, including agricultural loans, to over 25,000 people living in poverty through 2011.
The $350,000 grant from IFAD’s Rural Livelihoods Support Program will help combat hunger and poverty in three rural districts in southern Malawi. In addition, IFAD has granted $234,000 to Opportunity Malawi to provide remittance services through cell phones and satellite branches in rural areas.
Opportunity Malawi CEO Aleksandr-Alain Kalanda said, “Supporting the people-to-people money flow to rural areas is vital in the development of this country.”
Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.
If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating or by subscribing to this project's RSS feed.
Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
Still want to help?
Support another project run by Opportunity International that needs your help, such as: