As a result of the generosity of donors such as yourself, we were able to provide new loans to 80 women entrepreneurs last month. These women completed business training in early September and started 80 new businesses. The businesses chosen by the women are quite diverse and range from groceries (mealie meal - a Zambian staple, cooking oil, rice, sugar, eggs, fruits, vegetables, and beans), to dressed chicken, dried fish, charcoal, baby blankets, books, and a salon etc. Many of the businesses such as charcoal, rice, beans and sugar involve the women buying in bulk, repackaging the item in smaller quantities and reselling. Most women (about 50%) have started tiny grocery stores located close to their homes. About 20% of the women sell used clothes and shoes. These ladies travel by bus to the City Market in Lusaka, purchase the used clothing and shoes and resell these at a better price in their community.
One of the ladies, Edith Makoni owned a hair dryer machine, so she opened a hair salon by renting space in the marketplace and purchasing supplies and materials like combs and cosmetics, needed to run her business. All of these businesses add value for the community members as they are located within walking distance from their homes and the community is able to purchase smaller and more affordable quantities.
Loans provided to these women will go a long way in helping them provide for their families and take the first steps towards self-reliance. At this time, 70% of the women are single or widowed and 50% are dependent on their husband or relatives for household expenses. On average each woman cares for 5 or more people at home - our goal is to help these women learn how to run a business so they can pay for school expenses and keep their children in school.
We will be tracking these businesses to study how they evolve as the women progress from their first loan to their second and third loan cycles. Our hope is that as the women move to through their loan cycles, they are able to increase the number and variety of items, add higher value items, increase the store size or move to a better location, and/or have a better store design and display.
Thanks for your support.