I first became a FINCA client over five years ago, because I wanted to give my three children to have a better life. My big dream was for my children to go to school because I knew that was the only way they could have a better future. Back then, I supported my children with just a small business from my house in Aquin, selling meat, as well as some tools and other hardware items. But this business never made me much money, and I knew I needed to earn more to pay for their schools. When I heard about FINCA in a meeting at my church, I knew this could be my chance. I got together with some neighbors, and we formed the Fanm Askyon (“Women of Action”) FINCA Village Banking group.
I took my first FINCA loan in February 2005 for 4,000 gourdes (US$105), and used it to buy cosmetics in Port-au-Prince to sell in Aquin. I was very successful with my little business, so FINCA increased my second loan amount to 8,000 gdes (US$210). I used this loan to buy cosmetics in bulk from a wholesaler. This allowed me to save money, have an inventory, and get more cosmetic products than I normally sold. When I did this, my profits grew every month.
As my business continued growing, FINCA suggested in 2006 that I move up to a FINCA small group loan. My friends in Fanm Askyon wanted me to stay, but they were happy to welcome my daughter Rachelle in my place. Rachelle stayed with the group for two years, and became the treasurer. She has since left to go to school in Port-au-Prince. Although my family is no longer part of Fanm Askyon, the group still has its weekly meetings at my home in Aquin, and the members call me “Mother Mountain,” because of my success. I talk to the members about how to build their own businesses.
I was so afraid the first time I borrowed $100. I would have never thought that I was going to be able to borrow and repay this much money. But I did and, through the years, I was able to borrow more money. Every time, I felt less afraid and more confident, and I found that I was able to pay back every loan. My most recent loan was 120,000 gourdes (US$2,962), with a nine month repayment period. I’m using this loan to continue expanding my cosmetics and hardware businesses, to buy equipment for the butcher shop I opened not too long ago, and to pay for a motorcycle and driver’s salary, which is a new business I just started.
Thanks to FINCA, I was able to succeed in all my little businesses. I have been able to buy a small house in Port-au-Prince where my children live, so they can go to a better high school than the one we have in Aquin. I visit them whenever I can, usually when I have to buy merchandise in Port-au-Prince. My daughter Rachelle is now in the eleventh grade; my son Enoch is in tenth, and my daughter Ruth is in the ninth grade. I used some of my earnings to buy a small plot of land in Aquin and two cows. I am even saving to pay for Rachelle’s wedding.
Thankfully, my children and I all survived the earthquake, but our house in Port-au-Prince was destroyed, as was my poor father’s house in l’Azile. My dream now is to build another house in Port-au-Prince for the children, so they can finish high school and then go on to university.
Aside from the money I have earned over the years, I have found that running and growing my businesses has been very fulfilling for me. I am proud to be a FINCA client, and I love what FINCA has done for me and for other Haitian women. FINCA has helped me make a much better life for my family, and give my children a chance for a better future. Thank you FINCA!
Like thousands of people living in Kyrgyzstan in the 1990s after the collapse of the Soviet Union, I lost my job as a weaver in an old carpet factory when it closed, and all of its workers were laid off. To make matters worse, my husband—realizing he would have to support our family on his own—abandoned me, and we later divorced.
Forced to find a way to support myself and my 16-year old daughter, I used my small savings to rent a market stall in my hometown of Karabalta. I sold household items to students living in the dormitory near my business. At first, I struggled to make enough income, but I was determined to provide my daughter with a good education. In 2000, I heard about FINCA from another woman at the market. The way it worked appealed to me, because FINCA made loans available to women like me, who were working hard to build small businesses to support our families.
I joined FINCA’s “Marta” solidarity group, and used my first loan of $125 to expand my inventory of household items, providing more diverse products to my customers. With the profits, I was able to move from a small, one room apartment to a larger two bedroom apartment. After several years of steady growth in my business, I organized my own solidarity group—naming it “Ms. Shekimbaeva” after myself—and was elected chairwoman. For the past five years, I have been with the group “Adilet,” for which I am the chairwoman and bookkeeper.
Over the years and with bigger FINCA loans, I have financed the purchase of a small shop where I sell women’s clothing, a much more profitable line of business. My income has increased from $250 to $400 a month, but my greatest achievement has been my daughter’s graduation from the American University of Central Asia, one of the best universities in Kyrgyzstan.
My most recent loan of $1,500 has been invested in purchasing a wider range of clothing and accessories for my shop. My next goal is to purchase a new shop, because the one I currently have becomes cold in winter, an uncomfortable condition for trying on clothes.
I have a lot of customers at my shop who are in a difficult situation. I try to help them as I can; I counsel them about FINCA loans, and help them create their own FINCA solidarity groups. Many of them have received FINCA loans on my recommendation, and have been able to start a new life as a result.
I would not have this success without FINCA.