Hairdresser and salon owner, Madalitso

Madalitso started her own business so she could support her children to achieve their dreams.

Madalitso Nkhoma left school at age of 13, and gave birth to her first child a few years later. Now age 31, Madalitso has two children aged 15 and nine and cares for one orphan.

Young women often end education early, and are married young in order to relieve the financial burden on their parents. As a result, there are many barriers to independence and self-sufficiency for women like Madalitso, including low literacy rates. Employment opportunities are scarce and many women are unable to access capital to start their own business. This is compounded by geographical factors, as living in remote villages means there is little or no access to formal banking services.

Soon after the birth of her first child Madalitso started a small business running a hair salon to alleviate some of the mounting financial pressure on her husband. Initially, her business struggled due to a lack of capital and she failed to attract enough customers to cover the running costs.

A friend told Madalitso about MicroLoan’s livelihoods programme and within a few months of financial literacy and business training, Madalitso learned how market research can help her to keep her salon in high demand, and stand out from her competitors. She invested her first loan in hair dryers, straighteners, and weaves which gave her salon the upgrade it needed to attract more customers.

Now on her 6th loan cycle, her weekly profits have doubled from MWK15,000 to MWK30,000, and she has been able to hire one paid employee. When chatting to the MicroLoan team, Madalitso had high praise for her Loan & Training Officers who delivered training and mentoring which gave her the confidence to independently manage her income and savings, re-investing her profits for growth. With these skills, Madalitso has diversified her business, using a portion of her profits to buy gift wrapping paper to sell.

With her income, Madalitso pays for her children’s education and supports family members whose financial situation have been devastated by COVID-19. The success of her salon has also enabled Madalitso to save enough money to complete the construction of a new home for her family.

So what’s next for Madalitso’s salon?

In the coming months, Madalitso hopes to further diversify by expanding her shop to include the sales of cosmetics and make-up. Above all else, she dreams of seeing her children prosper, and she often takes her teenage daughter to the salon to teach her all she has learned about running her own successful business. When asked about her children’s future, Madalitso said, “My wish is for my children to finish school so that their choices aren’t limited, I want them to have access to the opportunities I never had.”