Micro Loans For Women Impacted by HIV/AIDS, Zambia

by Power of Love Foundation

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!

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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.

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Today I would like you to meet Agness and share her story. Agness is one of the ladies in our micro loans program who received business training and a small loan to start a grocery business a few years back. She worked hard and her business did well. Agness repaid her loan in full, expanded her business and continues to work hard and expand her business every day. She now boasts of a refrigerator and a freezer to store soft drinks, and meat for her customers and her store carries several high value items like light fixtures and hair styling accessories. Agness is our hero and a role model to hundreds of women in her community. 

Last month, Agness's story was chosen to be published by the UN Women's website. She is our hero and a role model for hundreds of women in our community in Zambia. I am sure you will love this story.

Agness runs her business in Matero - one of the poorest and largest compounds in Lusaka, Zambia. Matero is characterized with a high incidence of HIV, malaria and TB and unemployment rates upwards of 60%. Most residents in this community are poor and live on less than $2 per day. They are able to purchase grocery items in very small quantities and cannot travel far to shop as they have no means of transportation. Businesses like Agness's are a valuable resource for members of her community.

There are several women like Agness in our micro loans program who are working hard at their businesses despite their difficult circumstances. Earnings from their businesses enable them to take better care of their families and their businesses provide a valuable service to residents of their community. In addition, they have become role models, teachers, and mentors for other women (and men) in the community.

Please donate generously so we can continue to empower women by providing them an opportunity to learn a marketable skill, run a business, and keep their children in school. Your donations will help us provide business training, small loans, business mentoring and monitoring to women impacted by HIV, and AIDS in Zambia.

Thanks for empowering women in Zambia.  

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Happy Dad's day! Help us celebrate by supporting a Zambian family impacted by HIV start a business. Your support will provide micro loans, business training and business mentoring to new women entrepreneurs so that they can take better care of their families and keep their children in school. Since our conversation last month, we are happy to report that all 50 women who received new loans are business training are busy running their new businesses and taking care of their families. At this time, we have 275 women running successful to moderately successful businesses in our community in Lusaka, Zambia. Kudos to you - we could not have done this without you.  

The vision behind our micro loans program is that businesses started with the help of loans continue to operate and expand long after the loan has been repaid. We are in contact with several women who graduated from this program a few years back as they come back to visit and guide women currently on the program. Here is a heartwarming and inspiring story of one such entrepreneur.

About Jane (name changed): Jane is one of the oldest beneficiaries in our micro loans program. She was provided with business training and a loan about 7 years back. Her business continues to operate in the community and has grown considerably from a small vegetable stand to a shop with a variety of higher value items like detergent, cooking oil, eggs, mealie meal (a Zambian staple), soap, and other grocery items. 

Jane is living her dream of owning and running her shop and her children have finished school. She continues to work hard to make her business grow by adding new items. In addition, she comes back often to visit (even though she graduated in 2011) and continues to mentor current and new loan beneficiaries. She encourages and motivates the women to work hard, make loan repayments on time, save a small amount each week, and expand their businesses. Jane is an inspiration to the women as she has demonstrated that hard work and dedication can lead to success and self-reliance.

Jane’s Story in her own words: I am 62 years old, married with four children of my own and five dependents. I have known Power of Love’s program for the last seven years as I received my first loan in 2008. After completing business training I started selling different types of vegetables. I loved running my business and worked hard as my dream was to build a shop at home. I wanted to pay for school expenses so that my children can attend and complete school.

Before I joined the program life was difficult. We were not able to eat more than one meal per day as there are 11 people in my household, and on many days we did not know where our next meal would come from.

I received my first loan in 2008 and four more loans over the next three years. I worked hard to repay the loans and learned to save a small amount each week. With each subsequent loan I expanded my business by adding different kinds of vegetables, fruits, rice, mealie meal (a Zambian staple), soap, other grocery items, toys, hair care products etc. I graduated from this program three years back but like to go back as the loan officer, has become my friend. Esther helped me during the first few months of starting my business as I had never sold anything before joining this program.

I like to talk to the women who receive loans and tell them my story so that they know that it is possible to eat three meals a day, keep children healthy and in school due to a better diet and health. I ask the new loan beneficiaries to work hard to make the repayments so they can get a second and third loan and eventually run their businesses on their own without the help of the program. Also, I like talking to other women in the community and teach them what I know.

I am running my shop without a loan now. I have my own shop and have realized my dream. I even have a refrigerator in my shop for soft drinks.  I am very happy I got to know about this program as life has been easier since I started my own business. My children are healthy and all four have finished school. The younger children (her dependents) are in school.

Women like Jane inspire us every day and continue to inspire new loan beneficiaries. In addition to running and growing their businesses they have become role models and mentor the new women who join the program.

Your generosity has helped several hundred women start and run successful businesses so that they can take better care of their families. We hope we can count on your continued support.

Thanks for your caring and compassion.

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Happy Mother's Day! 

Thanks as always for empowering women impacted by HIV and AIDS in Zambia. With your help we can continue to provide micro loans, business training and business mentoring to new women entrepreneurs, so they can take better care of their families and keep their children in school.

Our Loans Program is Expanding

Since our last conversation in March 2015, we were able to provide 50 new loans and business training to new women entrepreneurs in our community. Over the course of five days, 50 women went through an intensive business training course, at the end which they presented a business plan to qualify for a loan to start a business. At this time, the women are busy running their new businesses and providing for their families.

With the addition of these 50 loans we now have 275 women running successful to moderately successful businesses in our community in Lusaka, Zambia.  

Testimonial

Before providing new loans last month we wanted to assess the impact of our loans program on women who were provided with loans 3-4 years back and to learn from their experiences. Accordingly, we had a long conversation with Amy (name changed) who was among the first set of women to join the program. Women like Amy inspire us every day and continue to inspire new loan beneficiaries. In addition to running and growing their businesses they have become role models and mentor the new women who join the program.

About Amy: Amy graduated from our loans program three years back and is continuing to run the business she started with the help of a micro loan. All her children are in school and she is able to take good care of her family. After completing her loan repayments she continues to come back to mentor new women beneficiaries.

Amy’s story in her own words: I am a 45 year old widow. There are seven people in my household – five children (two are my own), my sister and myself. My sister and the other two children are dependent on me.

I joined Power of Love’s micro loans program and received business training and a small loan to start a business. Before I joined the program, life was difficult as I did not have a means for taking care of my family and paying for school expenses for the children. After I finished a week long business training I started a business selling dressed chicken and cupcakes in my community of Matero. I worked hard, made my loan repayments and saved a small amount each week. My business did well. I was able to take better care of my family (we started eating 2-3 meals per day as compared to just one meal or less per day), and pay for school expenses for all five children. During my training and weekly meeting with the loan officer and other womaen, I learnt the importance of keeping children in school. I know that education is important for getting ahead in life. All my children are attending school and my oldest graduated from High School and has enrolled in the University.

Over time, I expanded my business by purchasing a sewing machine with the next loan. I love working for myself, feel empowered and am confident for a bright future for myself and my family. 

After I received a third loan and paid it off (about 19 months after I received my first loan), I graduated from Power of Love’s loans program. Since then, I have been encouraging other women in the community, to start a business, and take their first steps toward self-reliance. In addition, I regularly mentor women who have receive loans and business training from Power of Love, to work hard at their business and make it grow. The Power of Love loan officer tells me that I am one of the best mentors and I am happy for this.

My dream was to have a shop of my own. I continued to save and expand my business. Over the last few years, I saved up enough to build a shop and sell groceries from my shop. At this time, my shop has soap, cooking oil, eggs, candy, bread, cereal, beauty supplies, cookies etc. My dream has come true. I have paid for my oldest child to enroll in the University and have been able to electrify my shop. I will continue to encourage other women to start a business, work hard, and keep their children in school.

Thanks for giving me a chance to be economically independent. 

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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
$22,340 raised of $30,000 goal
 
245 donations
$7,660 to go
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