In the Field – Our Clients

 

Profile of a Typical Client

1. Impoverished (defined as living below the national and international poverty lines)
2. Rurally-based
3. Excluded from financial services
4. Female

MicroLoan focuses on the "poor" (living on less than $2.50 daily income) and "ultra-poor" (living on less than $1.25 per day with basic dietary needs rarely met). They are challenging to reach due to their isolated rural locations and disadvantaged social status. On average, each of these clients will have five dependent children. The children’s foremost needs are improved health, education and nourishing food. By improving poor women’s incomes, spending on family health, education and nutrition will increase, leading to healthier, more productive life for themselves and their children.

The majority of MicroLoan clients range in age from 18 to 45. A small percentage are between 45 and 60. Many clients also take care of HIV/AIDS orphans, and elderly family members.

Our typical client lives in a village with no electricity or running water, and cooks on an open fire in front of a crude home. She is most likely illiterate, but has an innate sense of the value of money. She is warm-hearted, welcoming, willing to work hard, learn and provide for her family. She may not wear shoes, but she will walk 7Km to the market. She will work in the fields, or behind a stall in an unforgiving climate. She relishes her successes, deals with challenges and sings.

Funny and her grocery shop

Like many of the industrious women in the Chikondano Credit Group, Funny Mbewe has enjoyed a lot of success in her retail business since the start of her first loan cycle with the MicroLoan Foundation.
Previously, Funny and her husband, Emmanuel, were workers on the local tobacco farm that surrounds their village, but this job could not provide them with a sustainable income. Consequently, Funny and Emmanuel need additional income. In order to secure some financial stability, the family has opened a grocery store. However, with very little stock and no ability to expand, they have found it difficult.

Since taking out the loan of MK10,000 ($70), Funny has been able to buy new stock and expand her business. Their grocery is now the biggest in the area selling everything from food and stationery to pain medication. Emmanuel is in no doubt that without the loan the grocery store would have had to close, as they would not have been able to grow it into a sustainable business.

Funny tells us that her husband is very encouraging. He is grateful that their business is improving. Funny is able to take a more active role in the business dealings of her family. Previously, like many women she knows, she had no input into the family’s financial welfare but MicroLoan, by lending solely to women, gave her a role in her family’s financial success. Her Loan Officer, Luciana tells us: We are trying to empower women. It gives women more power in the relationship and the husbands are supportive because it helps the whole family.

There is also a growing supportive network within the credit groups themselves. Funny tells us that the women encourage one another and this has been an important element of ensuring that everyone in the group can keep up with their repayments and remain eligible for future loan cycles. The MicroLoan system provides not just help for individuals, but for whole communities.