An Update on Power of Love's Project "Micro Loans for Women Impacted by HIV/AIDS in Zambia"
We would like to say a big "Thank You" to you for supporting women entrepreneurs in Zambia take the first steps towards self-reliance.
Power of Love’s microloans program empowers women impacted by HIV/AIDS and helps them become self-reliant. You will be happy to know that we were able to provide business training and small loans to 25 new women entrepreneurs in September 2012. These new women entrepreneurs meet weekly with the loan officer, discuss issues related to their loans, children's health, schooling, HIV prevention, and how to improve their businesses. They are applying the basic principles of business (learnt during business training last month) by tracking sales, inventories, expenses, and keeping accounts daily. In addition, they are learning that a better store design and display leads to more sales and repeat customers. They are on track with their loan repayments and should be able to complete their first loan cycle by April/May 2013 at which time they will be eligible for a second loan.
Some of the businesses started by the women include: (i) Grocery items like dried fish, beans, rice, cooking pots, cups and plates, bananas, soft drinks, popcorn, charcoal, fresh fish, cup cakes, milk, sugar, tea, coffee, vegetables, fruits, peanut butter, fritters, (ii) Books (mostly Bibles), (iii) Clothing: School jerseys, used clothing, and (iv) Shoes. These businesses will help provide for 125 children in school as on average a woman cares for 5 or more children in her home. The children can go back to school as a result of better nutrition and health and because their caregivers can now purchase school supplies (books, shoes, school bag, uniforms).
The long-term impact of our micro loans program is to allow women to start planning, saving, and building a better future for themselves and their families. Our women entrepreneurs take the first steps towards self-reliance, run thriving businesses and become role models and mentors for other women in the community. The program has a substantial impact on the community beyond the program participants themselves as the women in our program encourage others in the community to go in for voluntary testing and counseling (VCT) for HIV, start businesses, and take charge of their own lives.
Meet Sharon, one of the women entrepreneurs in our loans program.
Sharon is 50 years old and takes care of her six grandchildren and three other dependents. Her husband stopped work five years ago and they were not able to provide for their family. She learnt about Power of Love's micro loans program from a friend who is a beneficiary of this program. Her friend asked her to join the program as one of her grandchildren was not well.
Once Sharon joined our program, she was given business training and a small loan to start a business selling fried chicken on the roadside. With earnings from her business, Sharon has been able to provide three meals for her family, and two of her grandchildren are back in school as she can pay for their school expenses. In addition, she has added two rooms to her house, so that she can supplement her income with rent. Sharon's business is doing well and she is on track with her loan repayments. She is happy and confident about her future.
Thanks again for your generous support and encouragement. With the addition of 25 new women, the total number of women entrepreneurs in our program has increased to 170. Each and every one of these women is a star as they are battling difficult circumstances to provide for their families and keep their children healthy and in school.