Why is Mapendo smiling? With the $100 she received from the Power in Unity group, Action Kivu’s savings & loan project, she bought a pig, and is able to sell the piglets for $20 each, allowing her to pay back her loan. The group operates with a “pay it forward” model, and part of the repayment invests in more women being able to join the group.
Mapendo is an active part of our community, and her smile is unforgettable. We previously posted about her and her friend in farming here.
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“We write history with our feet and with our presence and our collective voice and vision.”
~Rebecca Solnit, Hope in the Dark
Walking the dusty dirt roads of eastern Congo to run her small business as a trader of local beer and the maize to make it, Claudine’s feet are on the ground, writing her chapter in the history of the women of Congo. There is great dignity in presence, in showing up daily for her work.
Claudine is still amazed at how much her life has changed in such a short amount of time after she received a microloan from the Power in Unity group, a program that began with donations from Action Kivu supporters and has grown into a sustainable economic system of investment, where each member pays forward their loan in small monthly installments, giving back part of their profits to create another loan for a new entrepreneur.
“The way you see me here, I don’t know where to begin telling you about my life,” Claudine tells us. “But before I talk about my life, I first want to say thank you very much to Action Kivu / ABBEC. I consider them like my parents because they have done a great thing in my life. It gave sense to my life.”
Married, and the mother of seven children (three girls and four boys), Claudine had first tried to run a business on her own, borrowing 10 dollars from a friend here, 20 dollars from a neighbor there. But it was never enough; she couldn’t pay back her loans and also feed, clothe, and pay the fees to send her kids to school.
“Since I got the loan,” Claudine reports, “five of my children are studying and we eat one meal a day.” One meal a day is not sufficient, “but at least we know that there will be a meal every evening,” Claudine says. “I can also save a little money. I also got a goat from Action Kivu / ABFEC. It helps me with fertilizer for my soil and I have hope that I will gain many other things from it.”
Claudine adds her voice and vision to the collective when she meets with the other women in the Power in Unity group twice a month. They voted in a president and a committee of eight women who oversee the meetings and the finances. The women pool their resources and have created a sustainable system in which their profits make it possible to include new members, while also depositing into a social fund to help members who need money for medicine, or marriage, or who are too sick to work, or are grieving the loss of a loved one.
The community the women have created has never been seen before in Mumosho, but that is the underlying meaning of hope: it fertilizes and tills the ground for the foundation of a new reality, allowing hope’s adherents to write their new history.
Read more Microloan Mom stories here:
To invest in women like Claudine, donate to Action Kivu here!
If you were to meet Nsimire selling her fresh beans at the Peace Market in Mumosho, you might address her as “Mama Nsimire,” as the women in Congo are called. The moniker could not be more true for Nsimire, who is the mother of 18 children.
Due to extreme poverty, eight of Nsimire’s children have died, and she and her husband now care for 10 kids. Before she received a loan through Action Kivu’s Power of Unity group, Nsimire was working on a farm, earning around a dollar per day of labor. With her husband unemployed, they were unable to feed or clothe their children, let alone pay for their school fees.
After receiving a loan of $50 USD from Action Kivu’s Power of Unity group, Nsimire began her business selling fresh beans at the market, and now seven of her 10 children are enrolled in school!
Part of the Power of Unity program is to pay forward her loan, to invest in more women entrepreneurs joining the group to start their own small businesses. Beyond that investment, Nsimire envisions sending all of her children to school, and opening a big shop in Mumosho.
To invest in women like Nsimire, visit ActionKivu.org. Every dollar makes a difference in changing the lives of these women through literacy classes and vocational training programs, and immediately affects the lives of their children through nourishment, health education, and formal education, helping to break the cycle of poverty. We’re grateful for and depend on our generous monthly and one-time donors! Click here to learn more.
For years, Faida and her husband had no work, and no means to feed, clothe, or send their six children to school. “We suffered for many years,” she says. “Some of my children were going to school, but in very bad conditions.” They had no food to eat, no shoes to wear, and often went to class without the necessary books. “I can’t even talk about a school bag [backpack] – I had no money to ever buy one for any of the kids. I could never think about buying clothes. At that time, when one of my children was sick, I could not afford to take them to a doctor. Can you imagine that?” she asks. “Seeing your child suffer, and not being able to do anything about it?”
Faida confided that she had been losing hope. Uncertain what she could do, unable to find work to care for her family, she thought about suicide. That day she saw a friend who invited her to go to apply for the Microloan Project with ABFEC (Action Kivu’s partner organization in Congo).
“I got the loan,” Faida says with a smile. “It was a miracle that I had never seen in my life. I started my business, selling cassava flour, and I thank God – everything is going well. With this small business, I am now able to pay the school fees for all my children, buy food for them, and I save some money. ABFEC also gave me a goat, which helps provide fertilizer for my soil. I don’t know how I can describe my former life, but I can say that I have seen a great change in my life because of Action Kivu’s support. Thank you so much to the people who made this possible.”
Thanks to individual donors giving initial investments through Action Kivu, ABFEC’s Microloan Project is up and running in eastern Congo, sustaining itself as the businesswomen re-invest a portion of their proceeds back into the program, funding more and more women to launch their own small businesses.
Your donation enables Action Kivu to continue to fund the Literacy Program and Vocational Trainings that teach the women skills to transform their lives. Consider giving that gift of real hope today!