Fatima Issah

Fatima Issah lives in Dowa, Malawi and is a member of ‘Takwera Credit Group’.

With this group, she has taken out nine loans through The MicroLoan Foundation and is currently receiving a standard type of loan. Fatima is married and along with her husband is responsible for eight children between the ages of 5 to 25 years. Six of the children are theirs, and two are orphans from Fatima’s siblings. In total, Fatima is responsible for a household of ten people. When her husband fell sick, she realised that she needed to take up business in order to sustain their lives.

Having left school at nine years old, like many women in Malawi, Fatima did not receive a comprehensive education and was a bit apprehensive about establishing a business. However, with the support of her husband and The MicroLoan Foundation, she took the plunge and now sells safe tap water to her local community. MicroLoan was instrumental in allowing Fatima to achieve this and the loans she received provided the capital required to purchase a community water tap from the water board.

With the tap now installed, Fatima is able to make an income of K20,000 a week. This helps her to meet the basic needs of her family and also pay for school fees for her children. She has also been able to purchase a plot of land, which marks the location for a new family home. Whilst Fatima has already seen some improvement in her life and that of her family’s, she is keen to take her entrepreneurship to the next level. Having learnt a lot regarding ‘market research and business selection’ through training provided by MicroLoan, she recognises that there is an opportunity to establish a restaurant within her community and aims to do this after gathering enough capital.

As well as having high hopes for her own future, Fatima also has great wishes for her children’s lives. She deems the business knowledge that she has acquired to be very important and hopes that she can equip her children with such information ‘so that they can also set up a business of their own’. Knowing the importance of education in all its forms and highly aware that she was unable to progress with her schooling, she is also very eager to make sure she educates her children ‘thoroughly up to tertiary education’.

Friends comment that Fatima has used ‘a good idea’ to set up her business and she is happy that she ‘no longer panics to find money’. Her journey has set such an example to others that some around her are even looking to follow in her footsteps in terms of joining a MicroLoan group. Despite being illiterate and facing other hardships, Fatima has created a successful enterprise and says that is now seen as a ‘role model’ in her society. Whilst she ‘used to suffer a lot to find basic needs’, Fatima says ‘I am now able to stand on my own’ and this illustrates how empowering working alongside MicroLoan has been for her.

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