Charlotte Assumani is a widow and a mother. She has been a FINCA client in the Democratic Republic of the Congo for over 15 years. She runs a restaurant in downtown Kinshasa, where she also sells clothes. Recently, Charlotte shared her story.
Before joining FINCA my life was not easy at all. As a military wife, [my husband’s] income could not cover our family’s basic needs. In order to pay for our children’s school, I decided to start a small business. Most banks do not serve customers with no guarantee or collateral so the only financial institution that opened their doors to me was FINCA. I was able to get a loan as a member of a Village Bank, a group of women that support each other and guarantee each other’s loan payments. My first loan of $400 allowed me to begin my business.
For nearly five years, Charlotte continued taking Village Banking loans, growing her business and loan amount every year until she didn’t need the group guarantee anymore. She had her own established business and was able to get an individual loan from FINCA. Thanks to those FINCA loans, Charlotte has created wealth, sent her children to school and now employs many other people. She is proud to be helping other people try to achieve their dreams.
I now have eight people working with me. They all have extended families of more than four members, so not only my family but also the lives of 32 other people depend on my business. My restaurant is now able to serve nearly 150 people per day. I even expanded the restaurant menu to satisfy my different customers’ needs. We can make over $300 in daily sales, and we are increasing this number with the investments that we are able to make with my FINCA loan.
But business hasn’t been without challenges. When COVID-19 hit and a lockdown was imposed, Charlotte had to shut down her restaurant and shop for nearly three months. “That was tough,” she says. “Fortunately, FINCA kept supporting us by putting in place a ’’grace period’ during which we could choose reduced or no loan repayment for the three months of the lockdown. This helped me to reduce my expenses and use my savings to provide some support to my workers.”
After the government lifted the lockdown, Charlotte’s businesses recovered. Now she has her eyes firmly set on the future. “I have always planned to one day buy a multi-storied building and when I ultimately do it, I know my children will say: Here is the result of our mum’s long and hard work and FINCA’s support!”