Renata with her son
Dear Donors, happy GivingTuesday! (this means there’s a 50% bonus on any donation!). Today we bring you the story of Renata, through whom you will get an idea of what has been happening on this project since the start of 2016.
Renata (25) is living with her young son and an older boyfriend (40). We first met her this February. She was in a list of pre-selected girls community groups have given us, we interviewed her and she qualified to be part of the program. She knew how to do a business well, buying and selling eru (local vegetable) in local markets, but at some point in the past she had an emergency, used up all her money and could not continue. She had just started a smaller business; going around selling boiled egg with pepper, making about 12 dollars a month. By giving her a small sum we would make sure she started a better business again, and with appropriate coaching and follow-up we could try to avoid misuse of the business money. Renata is also semi-literate.
Like Renata, many girls required assistance to write their business plans, the ideas were clear, but they could not put them into writing. That was not a problem, we bring enough staff to the workshops (the ratio should be 1 staff per 4-5 girls) so that nobody is left behind. It’s the sense behind the business idea that matters to get selected, not what is actually written.
Renata displayed more than enough knowledge of her field and had a clear plan, so we gave her a first grant, 30,000 francs, about 50 dollars. And we went to check with her quickly after. Record-keeping turned out to be a problem. We have a system adapted to make sure record keeping is implemented among the girls, it ignores some of the technical terms, limits writing and focuses on something the girls can quickly identify as useful, a clear account of their profits. With Renata it was more difficult. We have spent hours with her during different meetings, trying to make sure some records are kept, we realized there were problems not only with reading and writing, also with numbers, she would often forget a 0, and it will be complicated to know if it was a great or a very poor day of business. We tried to look for somebody around her that could help her, but no neighbor seemed fit to the task, or interested. Sometimes our 1-hour long sessions with her (normally we spend about 20 minutes) had her dropping some quiet tears of frustration, we made it a personal mission to solve the problem. We were going over each market day with her, making her recall quantities and basically do the records all over again, just to get an idea of her profits. She was not doing bad at all, every month she will make slightly above the 50$ we had given her with your help.
She started looking at things differently. “This man can leave me at any time, he will go to Nigeria. I’m ok with that, he never helps me. He is a problem sometimes. I want to make my life with my child and find a small place for ourselves”. Behind her gentle smile there was a strong woman in Renata, with clear priorities.
This August was time to receive 50,000 (about 80$). “You know, at this season eru is expensive and if you give me I will not buy more than what I’m buying now. The money will just stay in the house and I don’t trust my boyfriend. Can you give me next month?” She asked. We were proud of her, she was setting her own pace, and proud of us, we had earned her trust (she knew we would be there next month and the next one, that we are not going anywhere).
So this September we gave her the second grant, and she is doing great, she keeps going to the market and she started adding other things to the business. Eru is traditionally cooked with other ingredients (such as dry shrimp and cow meat) so it made sense to try. “It’s not really moving, the profit is small, the product stays for too long”. She tried and she discarded. “I want to try now snails, a friend of mine is doing it”. This time it worked, she is now having a healthier stream of profits. We also found a system (no dates, only numbers, no writing), and she found somebody to help her. A child of her neighbor is doing her records every business day.
During one of our conversations Renata asked us if we could help more girls and she told us about Eva. Eva is living with her aunt and 5 other people, dropped out of school when she became pregnant and wants to start a food business, we interviewed her and she qualifies for assistance, this past Thursday she started training with us.
This is our first year with Renata and we have learned so much with her, we know that next time we have a similar situation we will be more prepared to adapt the record-keeping system, and we keep learning insights from the markets of Tole with this determined entrepreneur! Next year will be her confirmation, our job is only finished when their position out of poverty is secured forever.
We hope you understand a bit better the project through Renata and to which extent you are transforming lives.
Today is bonus day and you think of a donation it will be increased by 50%! 100 dollars will be 150! (so two more girls to help will actually be 3!). If you chose to sign for a recurring donation (monthly donations) this will be matched by 200%!! (so if you sign to make 30 dollars a month, we will get 90!). This year will close with 50 girls supported, can we make it to 80 next year?
Next report will be next month and will cover the closing of the year: training of the next 20 girls, as well as the disbursement of loans of up to 550 $ to a few who have now reached a higher level and want to go further.
another follow-up meeting, this october
In the market
Eva, the next in line!