The shoes were in demand at the time but most shopkeepers did not stock enough of them due to inadequate capital and poor usage of profits. I did things differently.
– Maria Chateka
In February 2017, Maria Chateka, a widow living with HIV, owned a small stand in the market, selling beans and maize in her rural village in the southern part of Malawi. She made roughly $2-a-day, barely enough to feed her family, let alone pay the $68 per term required to send her son and niece to school.
That was when she was connected to CCP’s USAID-funded One Community project and its village savings and loan group. These groups play a crucial role in bringing financial services to rural areas where formal financial institutions, such as banks, are limited. One Community has established these in local communities to help improve the lives of people living with HIV in Malawi. When she joined the group, she took out an $8 loan with its 20 percent interest in order to diversify her business. She ordered plastic shoes from the nearby city, Blantyre, which she then sold in her community.
“The shoes were in demand at the time but most shopkeepers did not stock enough of them due to inadequate capital and poor usage of profits,” Maria says. “I did things differently.” She had been taught to carefully record her investments and to anticipate what she would need to save to grow her businesses. And she invested whatever profits she could in the village savings and loan for “safe keeping.”
Maria has become something of an entrepreneur, growing and diversifying her wares. She took out more loans and started selling cloth, basins and essentials like soap and sugar. Since she started, Maria has taken and paid back loans amounting to $205 – an amount she would have never been able to obtain on her own. Maria now owns a shop, which brings her a healthy profit of $10 a day. She uses this money to pay for school fees, buy her household necessities and reinvest into her Village Savings and Loan group.
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