Micro Loans For Women Impacted by HIV/AIDS, Zambia

by Power of Love Foundation
Vetted

Father’s day is June 19! This Father’s day celebrate fathers’ everywhere by giving a gift of empowerment to first time women entrepreneurs who are struggling to take care of their families and pay for school expenses for their children. Your donation will help provide business training and micro loans to start a business to women impacted by HIV, and AIDS in Zambia.

Today we would like you to meet two ladies who started new businesses just a couple of months back. They are putting the business principles they learned recently into practice every day, and working hard to increase earnings so they can take better care of their families. At this time, we have 322 women like Gina and Mary (see their stories below) who are taking charge of their lives by selling groceries, used shoes, used clothes, cell phone covers, chair covers, etc. Most women in our micro loans program are trying to overcome adverse circumstances so their children and grandchildren can stay healthy and attend school. These ladies inspire us every day.        

Gina is a 63-year old widow. She had seven children but only four are living as she lost three children a few years back. Her household consists of nine members and she is the sole provider for six grandchildren (out of which three are orphans), two dependents and herself. One of her grandsons who is now six years old, has been sick since birth and is malnourished and underweight. The child’s father does not want to take care of his son and is ready to divorce his wife because of his son’s chronic ill-health.

Life has not been easy for Gina. She had no experience in running a business prior to enrolling in Power of Love’s micro loans program. After completing business training, she started selling charcoal. She buys big bags of charcoal (50 lbs). repackages the charcoal in 2-4 lb. bags and sells the smaller bags at a better price. She is gaining confidence in her ability to run a business and is more optimistic about her future. At this time Gina is in her first loan cycle and on track with repayments.

Mary is a 65-year old widow. She lost seven of her nine children and the remaining two are not in good health. She has 12 grandchildren, but only two are in school. Her oldest grandchild who is 20 years old, dropped out of school in grade nine. Her family cannot afford more than one meal per day.

Mary has several friends in Power of Love’s micro loans program and based on their testimonies she believed that she too can change her life for the better. After completing business training, she started selling charcoal. At this time, she is on track with repayments and happy as she is able to afford three meals for her family.

To Sum: Earnings from businesses enable several hundred women like Gina and Mary, to take better care of their families, keep children healthy, and pay for school and other household expenses. In addition, new women entrepreneurs have become role models, teachers, and mentors as they share their experiences and knowledge with others in the community.

Thanks for empowering women in Zambia.  

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Happy Mother's day! This Mother’s day give a gift of empowerment to first time women entrepreneurs who are struggling to take care of their families and pay for school expenses for their children. You can empower women by providing them with training in marketable skills, and loans to start a business.

Last month we celebrated moms and grandmothers everywhere by expanding our micro loans program. Fifty first time entrepreneurs were provided with business training and new loans to start businesses in their community of Matero in Lusaka, Zambia. Over the course of four days, 50 women went through an intensive business training course, at the end which they presented a business plan. All 50 women completed the training successfully and are now putting the business techniques learnt into practice.

Businesses started with these loans are diverse and range from selling groceries, used shoes, used clothing and toys to school jerseys, cell phone covers, light fixtures, batteries, and wedding accessories. For the next two years, the new entrepreneurs will be supported by a strong network of other loan recipients, weekly informational meetings, business mentorship meetings, refresher trainings, and field visits. Earnings from these new businesses help pay for food, rent, medicines, clothing, and school expenses for their children. 

With the addition of these 50 new entrepreneurs, we will have a total of 500 businesses operating in the community. Over the last 10 years, our loans program has helped start over 600 businesses; 70% of which are still operating in the community and helping keep children healthy and in school.

Impact of our Microloans Program

Short term

Economic empowerment: earnings from businesses help pay for food, rent, medicines and school expenses. Social empowerment: women build strong social networks, and many become role models and mentors.

Impact on the community: Businesses started add value for the whole community as they: (i) provide increased convenience for residents. Residents have to travel shorter distances and they can purchase in smaller quantities, (ii) are unique and provide an element of luxury to the residents. For e.g. a hair salon that may offer basic hair styling and braiding for girls, (iii) increase in information and skill level as our beneficiaries share their learning, and (iv) change the culture (via savings, men helping in stores run by the women)

Long term:

1. Prevention of HIV: Loan recipients learn about HIV care, treatment and prevention and the importance of voluntary testing and counseling. All of these lead to HIV prevention.   

2. Reduction of stigma associated with HIV: Discussions regarding HIV care and prevention with peers and better knowledge leads to a reduction in the stigma associated with this disease.    

3. Increased attendance at school as the children improve in health due to better care and nutrition. 

To Sum: Earnings from businesses enable several hundred women to take better care of their families, keep children healthy, and pay for school and other household expenses. In addition, new women entrepreneurs have become role models, teachers, and mentors as they share their experiences and knowledge with others in the community.

Thanks for empowering women in Zambia.  

Links:

Our Heroes

Today I would like you to meet two women who inspire us every day with their zest for learning new things, running a business, and sharing their experiences with other women in the community. Daisy and Mary are two women in Power of Love’s micro loans program who received business training and a small loan to start a business. As a result of their hard work, their businesses are doing well. Both women are on track with repayments, are able to pay for school expenses, save a small amount each week, and are on the path to self-reliance. Daisy and Mary are our heroes and role models to hundreds of women in their community. We are proud of them as they have been able to break out of the vicious circle of poverty and lack of education despite their difficult circumstances. Here are their stories.

Daisy’s dream is to go ahead in life by taking care of her family and providing a good education for her two children. Life became tough for her when she lost her younger sister to AIDS and she became the sole care giver for her three nieces and nephews. Her husband who drives a taxi, does not earn to meet household expenses. Daisy enrolled in our micro loans program and received business training and a loan, to start a business. Earnings from her business have helped pay for school expenses for the five children under her care. In addition, she is able to save a small amount each week from selling Chitenge (Zambian style skirts) and fabric.  

Mary is married with four children. Life became difficult for her when her husband lost his part-time job. Her children became despondent as they had to miss school. Mary learnt about our micro loans program from a friend who encouraged her to apply for a loan. She received business training and a loan and started selling used toys. She worked hard, and earnings from her business enabled her to pay for school expenses. Her family is happy and grateful for the opportunity provided by the loans program. Her husband helps run the store while he is looking for work.    

Women (like Daisy and Mary) run their businesses in Matero - one of the poorest and largest compounds in Lusaka, Zambia. Most residents of Matero are poor and live on less than $2 per day due to a high incidence of HIV, malaria and TB and unemployment rates upwards of 60%. Businesses operated by women like Daisy and Mary are a valuable resource to the community as residents are able to purchase groceries, household items, and services close to home and in small quantities.

Plan for 2016

At this time, we are raising funds to provide 50 new loans to first time women entrepreneurs. With the addition of 50 new loans we will have a total of over 300 active loans. Please donate generously so we can continue to empower first time women entrepreneurs in Zambia. Your donations will go a long way in helping provide business training, loans, business mentoring and monitoring to women impacted by HIV, and AIDS in Zambia.

As a result of this program, several hundred women are able to take better care of their families, keep children healthy, and pay for school and other household expenses. They provide a valuable service and have become role models, teachers, and mentors for other women (and men) in the community.

Thanks for empowering women in Zambia. 

Links:

The Power of Love team would like to wish you a very happy holiday season and express thanks for your caring, encouragement, and support throughout the year. Your generosity has empowered several hundred women and they are looking forward to a brighter future. We could not have achieved our goals without each of you. 

A brief update on our micro loans program: At this time we have 272 women running successful to moderately successful businesses which benefit approximately 1900 people. With earnings from their businesses, almost all women are able to provide 2-3 meals for their families, and a majority have been able to pay for school expenses. In addition, they have developed significant knowledge regarding the importance of keeping children in school, HIV prevention and care, and acquired business skills and experience. We are confident that these learnings will be sustained and put the women closer to self-reliance. Moreover, our women entrepreneurs have become role models/mentors in the community.

In addition, we provided business training to 222 new women last month and these new entrepreneurs are working hard to make a success of their businesses.

Please take a moment and treat yourself to this short video in which our children are singing and playing a popular Zambian game called "Chiligogogogo chili paliwe" . We are confident this video will brighten your day. 

Have a wonderful holiday season filled with family, friends, and laughter!

Thank you!

Links:

The Power of Love team would like to thank you for supporting our micro loans program in Zambia. As a result of your generosity we were able to provide 50 new loans and business training to women entrepreneurs last April in the community of Matero in Lusaka, Zambia. At this time we have 272 women running successful to moderately successful businesses which benefit approximately 1900 people. With earnings from their businesses, almost all women are able to provide 2-3 meals for their families, and a majority have been able to pay for school expenses. In addition, the women have developed significant knowledge regarding the importance of keeping children in school, HIV prevention and care, and acquired business skills and experience. We are confident that these learnings will be sustained and put the women closer to self-reliance. Moreover, our women entrepreneurs have become role models/mentors in the community. In fact one of our graduates, has become a role model for women around the world as her story was published at the UN Women’s website last July.

Who are the loan beneficiaries? Women and children are the direct beneficiaries as they have been disproportionately impacted by the HIV and AIDS epidemic in Africa. Our loan recipients are all women and range in age from 33 to 65 years old. Of these, about two-thirds are single or widowed. On average each woman cares for a total of 7 or more people, five of which are children.

What are the goals of this program? The goal of this program is to empower women by teaching them a marketable skill so they can take better care of their families. Our vision is to enable women to become self-reliant by providing them with tools that enable them to take care of their sick family members, prevent the spread of HIV, and provide for their families.

How do we increase the probability of success for our entrepreneurs? In order to help the women run successful businesses, the program provide buiness monitoring and advice via weekly meetings, business mentoring sessions, refresher trainings and field visits.

Weekly meetings: The women meet with their loan officer every week to make repayments. In addition to making repayments, they discuss business related issues and other issues important to them such as HIV prevention and care, cancer screening, the importance of keeping children in school, adolescent children issues, hygiene etc. 

Business mentoring: The program also encourages those who have graduated to mentor those currently in the program. In a typical business mentoring session, women graduates who are running successful businesses are invited to speak to current loan recipients. The business mentor motivates and inspires loan recipients to continue to work hard and to address challenges.

Field visits and on-site conversations by loan officers provide an opportunity to review strengths and weaknesses of the business, check if techniques demonstrated during training are followed, and offer business consulting. For example, the loan officer may provide advice and guidance on store display, store design, accounting, underscore the importance of customer service, as well as the regular use of work sheets.

Refresher trainings: In addition to intensive training prior to receiving loans, recipients must attend a refresher training at the end of the first loan cycle. The goal of the refresher training, moderated by a professional, is to motivate women to continue to work hard and act as a support group. These trainings provide an opportunity to build partnerships with other women, and to discuss and learn from successes/challenges, and share their learnings and plans for the future.

Impact

At this time we have 272 direct beneficiaries and more than 1900 indirect beneficiaries as each women cares for seven people on average.  An additional 1000 people are indirect beneficiaries as women in our program share their learning with others in the community.

In summary over the last 12 months our women entrepreneurs have made significant progress as:

(i) almost all women have purchased household items and toys for their children,

(ii) most women have been able to pay for school expenses (about 96 children were able to go back/start school as a result of earnings from businesses),

(iii)  they are learning to save a small amount each week,

(iv)  60% women now have bank accounts as compared to less than 10% before,

(v)   164 businesses out of 275 have expanded, and

(vi)  overall capital growth has been 12%.     

But the most important result is that our loan recipients have developed significant knowledge regarding the importance of keeping children  

But the most important result is that our loan recipients have developed significant knowledge regarding the importance of keeping children in school, HIV prevention and care, and have acquired business skills and experience.

The impact of this program goes beyond the economic benefits of increasing income and earnings in the short term. The women now have the necessary capital and skills to continue to run and grow their businesses. Most have gained confidence, share their experiences and have become role models and mentors in their community. The long term impact of this program is to teach women how to build and run a successful business, acquire the habit of planning and saving, and understand the importance of keeping children in school.

Next Steps and Improved Strategy

1. A larger loan size is better for business: Our plan is to provide bigger loans going forward.

2. We have learnt that counselling can increase the probability of business success for women going through personal problems. Going forward we plan to provide extra support and counseling to women who can benfit.  

3. Qualifying women prior to enrollment: To reduce defaults in loan repayments, we need to gather more information before the women are enrolled. For example, we should ensure that the women are not enrolled in any other loan program as this makes it difficult for them to make repayments to multiple agencies.  

4. We will be tracking our graduates so that we can learn what makes a business more successful and leads to self-reliance.

Thanks for empowering women and children.

Links:

 

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Organization Information

Power of Love Foundation

Location: San Diego, CA - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.poweroflove.org
Project Leader:
Alka Subramanian
Founder/Director
San Diego, CA United States
$23,126 raised of $30,000 goal
 
256 donations
$6,874 to go
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