To mark International Women’s Day MicroLoan Foundation held a discussion group of four clients from Nkhamenya town to talk about issues that are important to them as businesswomen. The attendees are all on their sixth loan cycle.
- Febbie Chaponda who sells second hand clothes and bakes and sells samosas.
- Magret Msimuko who runs a small restaurant selling rice or nsima with meat and vegetables.
Witness Banda who runs a grocery selling soap, oil, rice, flour and sugar.
Sella Mkwewe who is a tailor.
When it comes to the differences that MicroLoan Foundation has made to their lives, the women are clear: the profits from their businesses have helped them pay for their children’s school fees, buy better clothes for their family and make improvements to their homes. In fact, Febbie says that it was through seeing a MicroLoan client’s success in her community that she herself first joined as a client. Now, the women agree, it is up to them as MicroLoan clients to act as mentors to others ‘who don’t know business so that they learn to do business to help their families’. The contributions they have been able to make in their homes and communities give the women great pride. Febbie says she was able to pay for her children’s school books recently as her husband’s salary had not yet come through. Witness adds, ‘although it is the hungry period [i.e. before the harvest, when people struggle the most to feed their families] I have been able to buy maize and a big pot for cooking nsima!’.
Although women in their communities look up to them as MicroLoan clients, the clients also continue to aspire to be like other successful businesswomen in their communities. Sella explains, ‘there is a woman in Nkhamenya who owns a wholesale business. I admire her very much because her business is expanding and she owns a number of houses that she rents out. She is a leader. When there is a funeral she helps people by giving them food and money’.
These are just a snapshot of a few of the women who work hard to run their small businesses in order to improve their lives, and those of their families and communities. We celebrate their contributions and achievements this International Women’s Day!