In Indonesia, Training and a Microloan Give Tina a New Start
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When Tina lost her factory job, her children also lost the funds they needed to cover school fees for books and uniforms.
Building the Kingdom of God, One Cup of Tea at a Time
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Whether you are slinging coffee at the corner Starbucks or pouring hot tea under a tree in South Sudan, good customer service is crucial to success.
Teresa, a 45-year-old mother of five in Western Bahr el Ghazal State, South Sudan, learned this principle while taking a leadership course with one of our partners in South Sudan, World Concern.
Teresa runs a tea business in the shade of a tree near the Eastern Bank Market. Beyond building a loyal customer base through good service, she's also fulfilling her calling as a Christian by showing love and compassion for the people that God brings to her business.
Teresa first launched her tea shop with the help of a loan of 150 South Sudanese Pounds, or about US $50. Every customer who stops by gets not only a good cup of tea, but also a reminder that they are loved by God.
In one case, Teresa befriended a woman named Akec. Like many relationships, theirs started with some small talk and a few funny stories. Then, one day, Teresa invited Akec to attend a church event with her.
The Rev. Peter Garang, an ordained priest in the Episcopal Church of Sudan and an Economic Development Officer with World Concern, recalled what happened next.
"Mrs. Akec got convicted from a speaker who was preaching on God's love, and, as the result, she accepted Jesus Christ as her personal Savior," said Peter. "A few weeks later, she got baptized with her four children in Eastern Bank Parish. Five months later, one of her daughters became a Sunday School teacher in the Parish."
Around the same time, Teresa also began reaching out to a woman nicknamed "Anger" who was known in the community to have a struggle with alcoholism. This woman's behavior in the market was becoming a public spectacle. This broke Teresa's heart, so she began to speak with "Anger" about her problems.
Over time, the woman warmed to Teresa's advice and started attending church with her. Now, she and her five children have been baptized, and others in the community are marveling at her transformation.
Of course, besides reaching out to others – and serving tea – Teresa has needs of her own. She hopes to expand her business in 2013, and at the end of her conversation with Peter she offered up this prayer, which we want to share with you so that we can all join together in praying for Teresa and the women she has touched and will continue to touch through her business.
"May the Lord our shepherd who sees people's needs," she prayed, "bless my small business to grow well in the Eastern Bank area so that I can become a living example for my fellow workers and teach them to start their own businesses in our respective counties in Western Bahr el Ghazal State, South Sudan."
How Rosma in the Philippines Put Four Kids Through College
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Several years ago, Rosma, a 55-year-old mother of six in Manila, Philippines, sat down with her husband to discuss that favorite topic of married couples: finances.
To continue paying for their kids' education, they needed to generate additional income beyond the husband's work and her own small variety store. The most feasible idea involved turning extra space in their home into two small rooms that they could rent out. To do this, though, they would need still more money.
When you hear Rosma talk about the business decisions she made next, it's easy to see why her kids respect her so much.
A friend had told her about Five Talents' local partner, the Center for Community Transformation (CCT), so Rosma decided to join a savings and loan group. But instead of using her first micro-loan on the remodeling project, she chose to invest into her variety store. By expanding her offerings, she generated more profit, which she then began to save.
After subsequent loan cycles, she had added to her pool of savings and eventually invested a portion of what she'd accumulated into the remodeling project. Soon, they had two renters, and two new sources of income. But then Rosma had another idea.
Carolina, in Tanzania, Dreams of Branding Her Home-Made Soap
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Carolina was among the first women served by Five Talents' partner in Iringa, Tanzania, the Mama Bahati Foundation (MBF).
A Grandmother’s Tale: Journey Out of Poverty Began on the Bed of a Truck
Were you to sit down with the micro-entrepreneurs in our programs, many would tell you inspiring stories about how they have provided for themselves and their family. Rarely, however, would their stories begin all the way back in childhood.
Narcisa began her journey of hope years ago as a young girl in Cono Sur, Peru – on the bed of a truck, between boxes of cargo.
Little Narcisa's aunt had been abusing her and forcing her to do menial tasks while telling her father, who struggled with alcoholism and lived in a distant town, that she was sending his daughter to a good school.
"Not a day went by that my aunt did not mistreat me," Narcisa told us.
When a neighbor who witnessed the abuse offered to help reunite Narcisa with her father, she warily agreed. The neighbor then convinced a truck driver to carry Narcisa out of town, and so the little girl climbed into the back of the truck and prayed that she could find her dad – and that he'd be sober and willing to take her in.
When they reached the city where her father worked, the driver dropped off Narcisa two blocks from the address she had given him. He told her that if her father was not there, she should wait for him right where he had dropped her off. Then, at four in the afternoon, he would pass by to pick her up. Before driving off, he gave her a little money so she could buy a meal.
Narcisa remembers the next moments with a great deal of heartache.
She got out of the truck and ran to where she thought her father worked. Upon arriving, she asked for her father, and they told her that "the man over there" had the same name as her father.
She walked up to the mysterious man both with rage for all that he had done to hurt her family, and also with hope. She stood in front of him and said, "I am your daughter, Narcisa."
The man looked at her and, seeing her clothes in tatters and her hair dirty and full of lice, he suddenly broke into tears. He hugged her and they both wept for joy.
This was just the first leg of a journey that has led Narcisa, now a 66-year-old grandmother, out of poverty. She went on to educate herself and is now the treasurer of a savings and loan group funded by Five Talents. She is on her sixth loan cycle and runs a small beauty products business out of her home while also caring for three of her grandchildren.
Narcisa said she always tells her story to her grandchildren so they understand the kind of life she lived and how, despite it all, she was able to get an education and have her own micro-business.
They always end up crying – not from sadness but because they feel such pride to have a courageous mother who overcame great obstacles in order to give them a better life.
The Locked Box: A Business Woman Benefits from Microsavings in Sudan
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Remember back when you were just 5 or 6 years old and you stowed your spare change in a piggy bank or a jar?
What happened when you really wanted to buy something – a pack of baseball cards, a new doll, or an ice cream sundae?
More than likely, you spun off the lid to the jar, or popped out the rubber stopper on the bottom of the ceramic piggy, and transferred the money to your pocket – and then into the hand of a sales clerk.
Did you know that the poor in developing countries face a similar temptation?
They might put a little bit of money away when all of their monthly expenses have been paid, but then a family member gets sick, or a child needs money for a school uniform, and suddenly they find themselves unscrewing the cap on the jar and giving away their savings.
Roda, a 55-year-old woman in Sudan who sells vegetables in a market, said as much in a recent interview with our partner, Mothers' Union.
"I used to keep my [savings] in something called 'korok', a container made out of tin with a small hole for entering the money, so when I ran out of money, I could easily open it."
She joined one of Five Talents' savings groups in August of 2011 and, ever since, has been building up a reservoir of funds that no one can touch – especially not herself.
"The system of saving is a good one. We all have got to trust each other because the keys are with different people, even the box," Roda said. "Our bylaws [state] that the box will be opened after one year, and I have planned that when I get mine, I will build a small shop for selling my items instead of selling from a table and it will save me from carrying the items home and to the market."
Micro-Entrepreneur in Tanzania Launches Second Business
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Rukia in Tanzania wasn't about to take "no" for an answer. She had a hunch and she was going to see it through.
For a while now, the 54-year-old mother of three children in the Anglican Diocese of Ruaha had been selling chapatti, a kind of flat bread that originated in India. But with her brother's passing, she had to begin taking care of his two children as well. And the income from her chapati business just wasn't enough to put her brother's kids through school.
So Rukia had hatched a plan to start a second business – selling charcoal. Rising kerosene prices had given charcoal more appeal as a local energy source. The problem was that sellers like Rukia needed a permit from forestry officials to transport charcoal into town.
These permits don't exactly grow on trees -- at least, not in Tanzania.
But like a lot of determined entrepreneurs, Rukia kept pursuing the permit until, finally, it was awarded. She has since used loans from Five Talents and its partner, the Mama Bahati Foundation (MBF), to spark growth in the new business.
Besides paying for her nephews' school needs, Rukia has enough money to cover their hospital bills. What's more, she has continued selling chapatti because, she says, that business introduces her to new customers for her charcoal business.
She is now on her fourth loan cycle.
As a Muslim believer, Rukia is discouraged from taking loans with interest. But she has continued with Five Talents and its partner MBF in part because of the low interest rates.
"This makes Five Talents and MBF different from other MFIs, and this is why I am still with MBF," she told us. "Through [these] loans I have extended my support to my late brother's children and to my neighbors' who are in need."
Jumping for Joy in Peru
Sometimes the micro-entrepreneurs that Five Talents assists need more than just a loan to spark their survival business into a sustainable enterprise. They might first need something more basic, like windows and a floor.
This was the case with Gloria, whose shop in Huancavelica, Peru doubles as her home. The mother of three has to bear alone the burden of providing for her family.
"There were days when I wanted to leave everything and run away, but God who is almighty gave me strength to keep going," she told us. "Today, I am the mother and the father of my children, and we are doing well."
When Gloria was first introduced to Five Talents' partner in Peru, the Ecumenical Church Loan Fund (ECLOF), she had managed to build only a simple shelter for her family.
"I had a dirt floor and no windows; a plastic sheet was what we used for a window," she recalled.
Gloria's children often coughed through the night and felt the cold in their bones.
"It is very cold in Huancavelica and the wind entered my house like a snake that crawled through every corner of my home and on every inch of my children's bodies," she said. "They clung to me in the nights seeking warmth."
Knowing that something had to change, Gloria applied for and received a small loan that would allow her to lay a floor in her tiny home and install windows.
Now, her children are feeling much better.
"The wind no longer enters like it did before, and my children can play, jump, and laugh," she said. "They did just that this past Christmas when I bought them some small gifts. But the greatest gift of all is our new and improved home. I thank God for helping to change my life and bring a smile to my children's faces."
In the coming months, Gloria plans "to pay off my current loan, and take out another one to re-stock my shop."
To find out more about the life of micro-entrepreneurs in rural Peru, please watch our latest video:
Five Talents in Rural Peru: An Interview About Microfinance and Poverty from Five Talents on Vimeo.
Indonesian Micro-Entrepreneur a Beacon in Her Community
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Hotmian's story begins with a failure. But that failure merely gave her an opportunity to succeed.
Entrepreneur Makes Bread to Pay for Kids' Education
Single moms never have it easy – especially those living in impoverished communities like Sucre in central Bolivia.
Alejandrina, a baker and a member of the savings group "Las Benecidas", raised four children in Sucre without much help from her absent husband. When educational options for her oldest daughters suddenly dissolved, she decided to move her family of six south to Tarija.
"My daughters were getting bigger and in the community they couldn't continue with their studies," she told our partner Semillas de Bendicion (Seeds of Blessings). "People told me that in Tarija there were opportunities for women to study and for businesses."
Upon arriving in the city, however, Alejandrina felt lost. She first took a job washing clothes but made barely enough to survive. She certainly didn't have enough to put her oldest daughters back in school.
But then a friend taught her how to bake bread. Alejandrina realized that she could actually make some profit by selling bread in her community.
Around that time, she also joined a Five Talents savings and loan group. With her first loan of 100 bolivianos ($14), she went to the market and bought flour and other ingredients that she needed to make bread.
"I made more bread than ever and I sold all of it," she said.
The loan boosted Alejandrina's profit margin, finally allowing her to buy the necessary materials for her children's education in Tarija.
"Every day, I am dedicated to this business, and my older daughters help me by taking care of the little ones while I sell the bread. I am happy because all of them are studying."
Alejandrina's 13-year-old daughter Janeth (pictured here) is happy, too. "I give thanks to my mom for all of her effort so that we can study," she said. "If I could save as much as her I would buy lots of flowers to give to her."