You will be happy to know that we now have 230 women enrolled in our micro loans program and a majority of them are running successful 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, restaurant, and a salon etc. 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 higher price in their community. 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. 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.
Here are stories of two women who have inspired us with their inventiveness and “can do” attitude.
Nelly is a 45 year old widow. Her husband died two years ago and left her with six children and one grandson. Her income as a maid was not enough to support herself and her family. In September 2013, she received business training and a loan that enabled her to start a small restaurant at the Tuesday community market. At present, her restaurant draws a regular clientele and she has been able to move out of her sister’s place where she was living since the death of her husband. She is now renting a two-room apartment where she lives there with her children and grandchild. Nelly is appreciative of our business training and loans program and the continued business guidance she is receiving to ensure her business does well.
Emelesi is an old lady taking care of 12 grandchildren and 4 children of her own. She was going through a difficult time as she has had to care for her children and grandchildren. Two of her sons and three grandchildren are HIV positive. Prior to September 2013, she was washing clothes to earn money, but her income was not enough to provide food for everyone in her family. With the help of business training and a loan, Emelesi started a business selling used clothing. Since she started her business, she has stopped washing clothes for others and is focusing on her business. Emelesi says that she is happy that her family is now able to have at least two meals a day. She would like to thank supporters of our loans program as this program has made a huge difference in her life.
Power of Love’s (POL) micro loans program empowers women impacted by HIV/AIDS by providing them with business training, a small loan, and business advice and monitoring over the course of the loan period. Our loans program has enabled poor women to engage in self-employment projects so that they can meet basic needs and protect against unexpected financial expenses. For most women there is a dramatic improvement in their standard of living and they may graduate out of poverty. For all involved there is perceived improvement in gender equality, improved economic welfare, and a sense of well-being and self-empowerment. We are proud to report that all of the outcomes of this project continue to be significant, sustainable and permanent.
Thanks again for your gift of empowerment which has gone a long way in helping the women (about two-thirds of whom are single) take the first steps towards self-reliance.
Happy Holidays from the Power of Love Team