Josophine is from Kasungu in central Malawi. She runs a cosmetics shop from a stall she built at her village market.
Her business gives her financial independence and allows her to provide for her family.
57% of the rural population in Malawi live in poverty. Many struggle to afford food, education and healthcare. It is common in Malawi for girls to marry in their teen years to lessen the economic burden on their family. Josophine married at 19 and soon after had her first child. She and her husband now have two children of their own as well as providing for two orphans.
The lack of income generating opportunities and her lack of formally recognised skills made it difficult for Josophine to find work. Her husband was the sole earner and didn’t have a reliable source of income. The family’s financial situation was putting a strain on Josophine’s marriage.
“Being a housewife is difficult – I do not get a say in how the finances are controlled and have to beg my husband for money all the time.”
Josophine decided she wanted to find a way to contribute to the household income and started selling washing powder door to door. Unfortunately, without transport she was forced to travel on foot which often left her exhausted and unable to travel far. Her business quickly began to fail and once again Josophine and her children became reliant on her husband’s unpredictable income.
Making a change
After hearing about our work in a neighbouring village, Josophine decided to join a MicroLoan group. She saw this as an opportunity to gain better knowledge about running a business. After receiving her loans and conducting market research with the help of her Loan & Training Officer, Josophine switched from selling washing powder to selling cosmetics.
Making this change allowed her business to grow; Josophine built an expanding and loyal customer base.
“My products are now in high demand and my profits have tripled since joining MicroLoan.”
Increasing profits have allowed Josophine to reduce the burden on her husband. Their combined incomes have allowed the family to purchase their own home, build the market stall Josophine works from, and pay for their children’s school fees. With her business growing strongly, Josophine hopes to open an additional shop selling clothes.
“I am very grateful. The support from MicroLoan has changed my family’s lives. My marriage is stronger. We work as a team now and we will be able to give our children a brighter future.”
A new support system
Support from MicroLoan hasn’t just helped improve Josophine’s ability to provide for her family, but it has also benefitted her relationships with others in the community. Being part of a loan group with other women from her village has allowed Josophine to build a strong support system.
In Malawi each of our loan groups are made up of around 15 women. Whilst they all receive individual loans, each group has a collective responsibility for repayments. Every woman in the group has to repay their loans before further loans are distributed. The women choose who will be in their group. They help one another by sharing ideas and advice, and often support each other if they run into any difficulty.
“We once had to help one of our friends with her repayments when her shop in the market burnt down. She was unable to continue running her business at the time, so we helped repay her loan so she could access the next cycle and start over again.”
Navigating through the ups and downs of running a business is something that Josophine and all entrepreneurs have to learn.
Following extensive training with the support and guidance of her loan group and LTO, Josophine developed the knowledge and confidence to turn her struggling business into a reliable source of income and support her family.
Josophine is one of our longer term clients and is an example of how your support can truly transform lives.