Mary’s grocery shop: a place of empowerment

The story of a female entrepreneur that started with a small loan.

Although women represent 50% of the global population, surprisingly they only own 1% of the world economic capital. This was the case for Mary Rukere (61 yo), one of our EmpowerHer campaign heroes in Kasungu, Malawi. Mary is the main provider of  a family of 8 members, with 6 sons aged from 27 to 11 yo. He oldest son is a teacher and her second born is 24yo, Beton. The other four children are all in education, the youngest being 11yo. His name is Suzu (in the photos). 

Mary’s husband does not work, so the economic responsibility of maintaining her family lies on her. She used to work as a farmhand on the fields of a nearby farm, the work was hard and the pay low (average £9 per week). In the words of Mary: “We didn’t have enough money for food, we were hungry and the work on the fields was very hard.”

As part of MicroLoan’s livelihoods programme, Mary accessed financial literacy, business training and a small business loan. With a loan of £32 in 2016, Mary started a local grocery shop business. Before she took out the loan, she already had the building and used the loan to purchase stock. She is illiterate and signs for her loan with a thumb print. 

With the help of her second oldest son, Beton, Mary acquires stock for their store and farms their plot of land. Beton usually travels to Kasungu – a town some 30 km away from the village – to purchase goods to sell in the store. He leaves the house at 6am and travels by bicycle taxi to the town and he only gets back at 6pm. Mary says the transportation of stock is her biggest challenge at the moment. Her goal is to expand the shop to become a wholesale provider for other small stores in the area. Her weekly household income has raised now to £30-35. She spends her income on school fees and food for the household.

With her current loan of £64, Mary is navigating the new challenge of being a business owner and providing a better future for herself and her family. By helping women to help themselves, our work is having a lasting impact on the lives of women, children and families Like Mary’s across sub-Saharan Africa.

We are in need of donations to empower women to become entrepreneurs and begin working their way out of poverty. Collaborate with us in our EmpowerHer campaign and help women like Mary to lead their families out of poverty.

Donate here. All donations will be matched £1 for £1 by a company up to £20,000.