Sweet Success

Amidst the expanse of prickly green leaves and hazy blue sky, a lone woman can be seen moving along with ease. Guided by instinct and experience, she spots what she is looking for – a perfectly ripe pineapple. She gently bends and with one quick turn of her wrist, cuts the fruit free. She grins with satisfaction and proceeds to collect a few more before heading back to share her prize.

Juice drips from fingers and face upon biting into the golden sweetness. A taste made ever sweeter by the success of the fruit bearer. Madina Namanda is a long-time FINCA client and a shining example of how the right combination of hard work, business instinct and access to capital can lead to great success.

The mother of four owns and operates a thriving wholesale, commercial pineapple plantation near her home in Kitengeesa, Uganda. Twice a year her husband, two hired workers and, when not busy with school, her four children, harvest the pineapples by hand from her 12-acre property. The fruit is then prepared for shipment to clients throughout Uganda and even as far away as Kenya. Her efforts bring in over 12 million shillings, about $4500 USD, in net profit per year.

“She became involved with FINCA and realized life could be different”

Fifteen years prior, Madina gave little concern to business or financial matters. Profits and savings were not something she thought much about, quickly spending what little extra she had on treats for her children. But this changed when she became involved with FINCA and realized life could be different – that through loans and savings she could greatly improve her quality of life.

Her first loan was for 100,000 shillings ($40 USD), which she used to purchase necessary items for her family. Since then, Madina has been through 47 loan cycles with FINCA, using the funds to grow her many business ventures. She currently operates a 12-acre pineapple plantation, a 3-acre coffee plantation, and a commercial poultry farm.

Never one to miss an opportunity, Madina jumped at the chance to take part in a government managed water program. With the assistance of a 200,000-shilling ($80 USD) loan from FINCA, water pipes and a water meter were installed on her property, allowing her to act as a clean water distribution site. Community members pay her a small fee of 200 shillings ($0.08 USD) for 20 liters of clean water.

Access to capital has allowed Madina to purchase land, a truck to transport her crops, hire field staff, purchase a personal vehicle, install a 4-light solar system for her home, build a two-storey chicken shelter, and send two of her children to university. However it is her hard work and keen business sense that has allowed her to increase her savings to 15,000/week ($5 USD) for net total of 850,000 shillings ($325 USD) in the bank so far. At 45 years of age, Madina already has her eyes fixed on retirement – one where she can tend to her chickens and enjoy the sweet taste of pineapples and success.