Imane, 36, has a beauty salon "Treasures of Nature" (Rabat, Morocco)
I opened my beauty salon to sell and care for products from Morocco. I produce oils made by myself from my grandmother's recipes that she passed on to me when I was 12 years old. First, I started to work from home. Then, after having followed trainings, I decided to open my salon. Six years ago, I took my first loan of 3,000 Dirhams with which I bought a machine to extract oil. In addition to not being forced to use my hands for this purpose, I gained productivity!
I am very happy to be able to welcome the clients in this room and no longer at home in front of my children. With the last loan, I bought more materials in order to participate in the big agricultural show in Mèknes where I was able to present and sell my products. My microfinance institution pushed me to attend and even funded my trip. The MFI also allowed me to take training in marketing and financial management.
My long-term vision is to buy a shop and offer more beauty care to my clients.
Mohamed, 49, runs a stall in a souk (Casablanca, Morocco)
Since 2005, I have a stand with my wife in this souk in the center of Casa. It sells dried fruits, nuts, and colorful spices. In 2008, I borrowed my first microcredit in the amount of 5,000 Dirhams, which I renewed twice (for 10,000 and for 15,000 Dirhams). Thanks to these loans, I was able to invest in the supply of my stand. My wife also wants to focus on organizing wedding ceremonies, so we recently added the offer of these products in our shop. The manager of the agency of our MFI, who gave us the credit, comes to see us regularly. She has become one of our usual customers!
Renting a stand in the center of Casa is expensive. One day, we would like to open our own store.
Fatima, aged 55, a seamstress for wedding dresses and accessories (Casablanca, Morocco)
I opened my “Haja Fatima Space” shop 3 years ago in a working-class district of Casablanca. Thanks to the initial microcredit of 10,000 dirhams (€900), I was able to buy fabrics and accessories. With the 2nd one, I moved into these premises and invested in 3 sewing machines. Today, I am on my 3rd loan of 25000 dirhams (€2,200) to purchase wedding gifts, that are very sought after by my customers. In Morocco, a wedding is a very important celebration and a bride wears between 3 and 7 outfits over the course of the ceremony and so the sale and loan of dresses works quite well. For the past few months, I have even been able to employ Kawtar, a young apprentice, to help me with the customers! I dream of adding hairdressing to complete my wedding services offering!
Ana Senyolo, works in catering in Matoks (South Africa)
Small Entreprise Foundation (SEF) is a South African microfinance institution that has been supporting vulnerable women in rural areas for 26 years. This institution now receives support from LMDF and ADA.
Aged 52, Ana lives in a village near the town of Polokwane in a big house with her grandson. She moved there in 1988 to take advantage of the economic dynamism of the area and launch her fast food business.
Ana started out with a sewing activity that she quickly abandoned because she had not enough income to pay for the family expenses she assumed alone, her husband having died more than 25 years ago. She decided then to start selling chicken-based takeaways. Now, Ana is in charge of preparing the dishes at her home with the help of two employees. Her grandson and another employee are responsible for sales in a small room at the side of the road. A hundred plates a day are sold.
Ana has been a SEF client for 15 years. The funds she obtained from the microfinance institution enabled her to buy the raw materials needed for her activity in larger quantities at a cheaper wholesale price. At first, Ana used to borrow small amounts (between € 100 and € 1,000) in a solidarity group with four other women. Beyond the financial service offered by SEF, Ana testifies to having joined the solidarity group to find social bonds and to receive advice from other women entrepreneurs like her. Now she only borrows higher amounts (between € 3,000 and € 6,000) that she uses to acquire or renew equipment such as freezers or a car to get supplies faster.
The restaurant brings Ana approximately € 800 each month. These revenues enabled her to renovate the entire roof of her house and save money in anticipation of the opening of a new roadside store in a nearby village in 2018.
Providing advice and sustainable financing for MFIs
Through a social investment fund, ADA has financing solutions that microfinance institutions (MFI) need to ensure their growth. For ADA, financial support from an institution is part of a long-term partnership complemented by a technical assistance program. Discover the portrait of the beneficiaries of Insotec, an MFI supported by ADA and financed by LMDF to the tune of €1.1 million in 2018.Read more
Wendy Medrano Lazo, Senior Project Manager Myanmar at ADA
At the end of 2016, ADA launched a project to structure and launch the activities of Myanmar's professional microfinance association, the Myanmar MicroFinance Association (MMFA). To ensure the implementation of this project, Wendy Medrano Lazo, an ADA collaborator, was seconded to the association located in Yangon for an initial period of one year.
You were born in El Salvador, you studied in France and you started working in Luxembourg, with an internship at ADA. Since that experience, you have always worked in the microfinance sector. Do you think that being born in El Salvador gave you a different perspective on the impact that inclusive finance can play in difficult contexts?
Yes, it certainly helped and gave me a very demanding vision. I think that in difficult contexts people manage and invent ways to get by on their own. In order to have an impact on the lives of these people, it is not enough to simply offer a custom-made credit, but to find ways to ensure the sustainability of their activities.
During your professional experience, you had the opportunity to work closely with the African inclusive finance sector, and in particular with microfinance networks. According to you, what is the main support that microfinance offers to women in many Southern countries?
I would say that it gives the possibility to value their know-how and their role in particular in societies and in environments where women are seen and treated as inferior beings. In many countries, microfinance has prioritized women to ensure they have a voice and the possibility to express their needs and ambitions. Access to financial services facilitates the engagement of women in income-generating activities in order to improve their standard of living and that of their families. This is especially true in the rural world, which is often dominated by men. It is a gateway to autonomy.
At present, you are bringing ADA's knowledge and experience to Myanmar through a project that aims to build the network of microfinance institutions in the country. What is this experience giving you: what are the most important lessons you will bring with you? And what do you think is the most important contribution ADA is offering to the country with this project?
I think that one of Myanmar's greatest strengths is its human capital, from which I personally learn every day. I would bring with me the richness and the pride of its many cultures and the people’s sense of solidarity. That said, the respect for diversity and inclusion are paramount to foster the country's development, and financial inclusion is one of them. ADA is contributing to this through the professionalization of the country's national association of microfinance institutions (MMFA), which represents 170 microfinance institutions serving almost 3 million people in Myanmar. This association plays a central role in the knowledge creation in the sector, the coordination of the actors and the development of a suitable regulatory framework. Our greatest contribution will be to have structured and developed the activities of MMFA, to have formed a local team capable of managing the association, as well as to have facilitated coordination and partnerships with other organizations active in the country to ensure an effective use of funding.
Since that interview, Wendy has left Myanmar. She is now based in Cambodia.
Fabienne Bossa is a young entrepreneur from Ouidah, a small town about 40 km from Cotonou, the economic capital of Benin.
She makes with her 5 apprentices beaded objects such as bags, wallets, hats, shoes, jewelry and other accessories. Fabienne will train regularly in Nigeria whose border is a few kilometers away.
To set up her workshop, she applied for and obtained an individual loan from the microfinance institution COMUBA (Coopérative des Membres Unis Bethel Actions). This institution is a partner of ADA and is financed by the Luxembourg Microfinance and Development Fund (LMDF). For the moment, she is considered an individual client, but she will soon be able to enjoy a corporate status.
The weaver of Ouida
Yvonne Sossa set up her workshop more than 10 years ago. With her 6 apprentices, she makes fabrics on order thanks to her 3 looms.
She obtained a loan from the microfinance institution COMUBA (Coopérative des Membres Unis Bethel Actions). This institution is a partner of ADA and is funded by the Luxembourg Microfinance and Development Fund (LMDF).
Yvonne has already got several credits from this intuition since her inception. So far, she has obtained a regular credit that is granted to women. To benefit from it, she must be part of a group of women (between 3 and 35 members), that allows her to enjoy special conditions to obtain the loan, like the possibility to not provide any guarantee.
For the next few years, she would like to buy a plot of land and to build a workshop within her home.
Mrs. Komalasari from Jakarta, Indonesia
With her little sewing machine, Mrs. Komalasari, a 56-year-old Indonesian woman, in her village was known for retouching works. One day, while preparing breakfast, she had the idea of starting to reuse the little instant coffee bags to create women's handbags. Today she is known for her creations. Even her neighbours bring her their used coffee bags to help her with her small business.
To start her project, Mrs. Komalasari negotiated a group loan with 4 other women. Today she is in her fourth loan cycle with the microfinance institution KOMIDA.
In addition to the loan, Mrs. Komalasari was able to benefit from financial education training as well as awareness campaigns organized by the KOMIDA MFI.
Fabrics of Laos
Ammala Vilayvong is a 56-year-old weaver who opened her workshop in 2010 in the Thaphasat District, in the Bolikhamxay Region, Laos. She sells traditional fabrics to make clothes, usually dresses, as well as scarves and tablecloths. She learned the business very young from her family.
To set up her workshop, Ammala took out a first individual loan of 3,000,000 LAK (around € 290) in 2010 from the Women's Development Fund (WFDF), mainly to buy her equipment. She works with her daughter-in-law and she has already trained more than 20 people to work as weavers.
Amel Guelmane, Tunisia
Amel started her business of creating and selling jewelry, clothing, scarves, silk painting, and ceramics in 2005 and today she employs 2 people.
Before receiving her first loan, Amel participated in the training that the microfinance institution Taysir offered in financial education and budgeting for the management of small businesses. To follow she benefitted from a microcredit to buy raw materials and to enlarge her workshop and her shops. To date, Amel is on her third loan, enjoying each time an increasing amount, with a first of 2,500 dinars, then 4,500 dinars and the current one of 7,700 dinars.
What she likes best about Taysir is the support and the advice the institution offers her in running her business.
At the last Kram Fair, which takes place once a year in Tunis in April, Amel sold a lot of jewelry, more than she imagined. The success of these sales persuaded her to expand the range of products and to increase the quantities. She is already considering that the next credit will be for her shop and maybe to hire one or two extra people.
Besema Hamami, Tunisia
At the start of its activity, a sewing workshop, Besema met several banks, but no one wanted to help her because she owned nothing and could not offer anything as collateral. She was able to obtain a credit from the Tunisian Solidarity Bank for the purchase of sewing machines, but not for the purchase of fabrics. A friend, who had obtained a loan from Taysir, recommended her to go see them.
Thanks to Taysir, Besema has contracted the first credit of 12 months in 2015 and a second in 2016 over 15 months and each time she used them for the purchase of fabrics and raw material for her garment and fashion accessory workshop.
In addition, Besema followed all the business management trainings offered by Taysir. She particularly appreciates the support and follow-up offered by Taysir since 2015, after her first microcredit.
Now she employs 4 people in her workshop.
Mohamed NADI is Manager of the Micro-insurance Programme AXA Assurance Morocco
He took part in the training course on performance indicators in micro-insurance, which was held between 29th September and 1st October 2015 at the Mohammed VI Support Centre for Solidarity Microfinance, in Casablanca, Morocco. This training programme was created and organised by ADA and BRS.
What did you get out of the training?
"The content of the training course was very rich and well targeted. The material and case studies used in the workshops enabled me to develop my knowledge and reflexes on techniques for assessing the performance and profitability of micro-insurance programmes.
The exchanges and discussions that took place between the participants from the microfinance and insurance sectors were very interesting and constructive, and that enabled me to capitalise on my experience with other organisations in the field of micro-insurance.
Congratulations to the training team! Together with her teaching skills and grassroots experience, the trainer facilitated an efficient transfer of knowledge, which was adapted to participants’ expectations"
Rojoniaina, participating in the training of trainers
Rojoniaina took part in a training course on financial analysis, which was set up by CGAP for trainers, and was held in Antananarivo in December 2014.
What were your motives to take part in this training course for trainers in financial analysis?
"I had already provided training internally, to branch managers, but I needed training myself, to consolidate my technical knowledge and to help me express myself better orally, and to communicate my ideas better. After having spoken about this to my General Manager, he suggested that I take part in this training course and the institution paid the tuition fees."
What is your opinion about the training course?
"It’s a personal investment as there are new elements to understand, but that opens up new horizons on financial analysis. Added to this, on a personal level, the training course helped me improve the manner in which I transmit ideas, my public speaking and self-knowledge."
Basile Kouagou N'Dah, Microfact trainer
Coulibaly Modibo, General Manager of Nyèsigiso
"In order to launch the migrant remittance-boosting project, which consists of using migrants' savings to finance their needs and those of their families, we first had to identify our own institution's resources, as well as finding partners that could provide the necessary financial and technical support. In this sense, I believe ADA plays a crucial enabling role."
Réki Moussa Hassan, Director General, ASUSU, Niger
"ADA has been our partner for almost five years. We attach a great deal of importance to this relationship because ADA supports MFIs in their process of professionalization; it makes tools available to us and helps us in our capacity- building efforts. Two years ago, we were able to obtain funding from the LMDF thanks to ADA, and this was a very good thing as well. These funds have been used to finance our debt, which has enabled us to support the provision of services in rural areas and, more specifically, to provide funds to promote women’s rights."
Engracia, baker in Cape Verde, describes her experience in micro-entrepreneurship
"My name's Engracia and I live in Tira Chapéu, one of the municipalities of Praia, the capital of Cape Verde."
I live with my husband José and our five children. We set up a small bakery on the first floor of our home. We make bolachas, a sort of cookie typical of our area.
At the beginning we had just one oven and no staff to help us. José was exhausted because he had to bake the biscuits and then sell them in town. He went there by bus and on foot. We didn't earn much money and we always had to wait until we had sold all our biscuits before we could buy the ingredients for a new batch. It was difficult.
Then, one day, a friend of José's told us he'd been able to expand his small factory thanks to a microloan. We decided to give it a go. An agent from the Solmi microfinance institution came to see our bakery and we got our first microloan. We used the money to buy a second oven and a stock of flour, and we started to make more biscuits.
Microcredits to grow
We've since taken out a few microloans that we used to expand our workshop, replace our old equipment and buy a van to deliver cookies in town. We've grown so much that we even hired a few apprentices. Now, eight young people work in our workshop. In the beginning we went through a 200 kg sack of flour every week. Now we use one every day! Because we now buy more ingredients at the same time, we pay less for them. Our supplier gives us a discount if we buy 10 sacks of flour in one go.
The microloan really improved our lives. We've been able to send our children to school and José is less tired now thanks to his van and the employees who work with us. José also took a course in small enterprise management at the microfinance institution. He is now very skilled at managing our bakery. We feel stronger and freer.
Over the next few years we'd like to make our biscuits even better by purchasing higher quality products. We'd also like to expand the workshop a bit and get newer equipment, as we still use wood ovens for baking. We'd also like to sell our produce farther from here, outside the capital and, why not, beyond the island of Santiago.
Yacouba, a young artisan's start-up
Beyond the Patte d’Oie roundabout, along a dirt road typical of Ouagadougou, you can find Yacouba Sango's modest workshop. Four stone walls surround two sewing machines and an embroidery machine. Don’t be mistaken, although it may look bare, the tenant is far from lacking in resources. One look at the young tailor’s full order book and the customers patiently waiting for him to take their measurements confirms this young entrepreneur’s success. Yacouba has just celebrated his 21st birthday.
However, a few years ago, no-one would have believed in the success of this illiterate tailor, who had never attended school. Yacouba’s childhood was spent cutting out, sewing and embroidering all kinds of fabrics – moiré, cotton, and others under the orders of his uncle and boss.
Around ten years after starting at the workshop, Yacouba met Isabela in the marketplace. Isabela is a loan agent at RCPB, and she explained to him the benefits of setting up on his own, how he could do it, and, most importantly, how he could find the funding to start up in business.
Yacouba received help from RCPB and ADA
The funding is called Créd’art, an abbreviation of “loan” and “artisan” in French. This type of microloan was designed to help people start their own workshop, restaurant, salon or shop.
ADA and RCPB have been developing this special type of microloan since 2008. It has been tested in the capital’s MFI branches. ADA funds training and support for young persons, as well as technical assistance to RCPB. ADA also put in place a guarantee fund to partially cover unpaid claims. The loan fund is held by the partner microfinance institution – RCPB.
When the loan agent, who works hard for her young customers, found out that Yacouba had already spent more than ten years in a sewing workshop, she was convinced that this experienced artisan would be able to develop a profitable micro-enterprise. And she was right! Thanks to Créd’art, Yacouba purchased a second-hand sewing machine and he rented the premises where he is still located today. Little by little, the young tailor built up a clientele due to his reliability, attention to detail, and pleasant manner.
Alexander, motorcycle-taxi driver in the Philippines
"My name's Alexander and I live in Panay, a village near Ozamis, in the north of Mindanao Island."
We meet a client of the Gata Daku cooperative, which has received LMDF financing. ADA is in charge of supervising relations between the fund and the cooperative.
"I live in a small bamboo hut with my wife Julie and my six-year-old daughter Wenelyn.
I used to work as a driver in a taxi company but I didn't earn enough to pay for my daughter to go to school. In 2010 I contacted the Gata Daku cooperative in Clarin and they offered me a microloan to buy my own motorcycle-taxi.
I have since worked as a self-employed motorcycle-taxi operator. I start working at 5:30 am every morning. I go to Ozamis and drive people around until about 6 pm. I repay my loan in monthly instalments. I have a very good relationship with the cooperative's loan officers. When I come across them in town, we always chat a bit and sometimes we even go for a drink. They're really nice people.
Now I have earned enough money to support my family and, most importantly, to pay for my daughter to go to school and for her school materials. I used my microloan to buy my motorcycle-taxi. Once repaid, I took out another one for repairs to my vehicle. Now, I'm saving the money I have left at the end of each month to be able to maintain my motorcycle on my own.
I like my job and I think it's way better than working in a supermarket, where wages are very low. My salary directly depends on my efforts. If I work until later in the evening, I earn more. In the future, I'd like to take out a bigger microloan so I can buy a new motorcycle-taxi. I'd also like to keep saving so that my daughter can continue her studies when she grows up."