Vivian: A Mother, a Business Owner, and a Community Leader

By Lydia Adomako – Micro-Credit Program Officer

Vivian getting ready to care for her chickens.

We’re celebrating mothers this Mother’s Day, and we wanted to share this story about Vivian, an ambitious and passionate mother, business owner, and community leader.  Happy Mother’s Day to all of the women like Vivian who are serving as inspiring role models for their families and their communities!

Vivian is 49 years old, and she’s an industrious client of Self-Help International as well as a leader in her community of Bedabour. She is involved in the microcredit program, receives agricultural extension services from Self-Help’s agriculture team, and serves as a community coordinator for the Teen Girls Club. She has been with the microcredit program for the past ten years. She is a community catalyst and bulwark for the Self-Help programs in Bedabour.

“In 2010, my sister, who was a business owner in Nkawie, told me about an NGO called Self-Help International that was engaging some women in Nkawie in business through a microcredit program. We wanted Self-Help to come to Bedabour, but Self-Help said they wanted us to mobilize ourselves first,” Vivian explained.

“I helped my community organize about 25 women, and Self-Help started a series of training sessions for the microcredit program,” Vivian said. “Even though I was a business owner, I felt like I had few options and limited opportunities to choose from. Self-Help opened a whole new world to me; I had a dream and Self-Help enabled me to turn it into reality. I am respected in my community because of my achievements with Self-Help.”

“My first loan from Self-Help was GHC 100 (around $20 USD). Over time, that amount wasn’t enough for my business. Because I was engaged in farming, raising sheep and goats, and palm oil processing, I needed equipment but didn’t have enough money for it,” Vivian said. “I negotiated with Self-Help’s micro-credit team for a larger loan amount, and the first equipment I purchased was a water pump to irrigate my vegetable farm during the dry season. It increased my yields significantly, and I’m able to maintain it.”

“My palm oil processing was growing, but the traditional way of processing it was too much to handle. I talked to the microcredit team, and they bought a machine that helped with the processing,” Vivian said. “It was such a relief, and I still use it and maintain it.”

“In 2014, my son was admitted into senior high school, but it wasn’t free and I needed help affording the school fees and meeting the requirements for his enrollment. The microcredit team also helped me by providing a loan for his school fees,” Vivian explained.

“Throughout my engagement with the Self-Help microcredit program, I have demonstrated on several occasions my ability to pay my loans in full and on time,” Vivian said. “The list of how Self-Help has helped me goes on and on – they even helped me acquire a plot of land in Kumasi and helped me roof my house.”

Vivian is not only a microcredit client – she also receives agricultural extension services from Self-Help Ghana’s agriculture specialists.

“My success with the microcredit program prompted Self-Help to introduce me to their other programs because I wanted to do more,” Vivian said.  “So, I joined Self-Help’s agricultural extension program, too.”

Vivian caring for her chickens.

“I have received training in poultry and rabbit farming from the agricultural training center in Nkwakrom,” Vivian said. “Now, my poultry and rabbit farms are doing well. I can even prepare my own feeds because Self-Help taught me, and because I get extra income from my other projects, I am able to save more money.”

Vivian is also a coordinator for the Teen Girls Club, and she is very committed to and passionate about the club.

“It was a privilege and a great honor when I was selected to be part of the leadership of the club,” Vivan said. “I felt like the least I could do was serve my community in whatever capacity. I have been given so much by Self-Help – it was my turn to give back.”

“Getting the girls to trust me was a bit difficult initially,” Vivian explained. “But, I wanted to make a mark on their lives. I persevered, and I have been able to reach them.”

Vivian enjoys the trainings and relationship-building that happen as a part of Self-Help’s programs.

“Self-Help makes a conscious effort to employ respectful people to run the programs, especially the microcredit program,” Vivian said. “The quality of the programs improves all the time. The staff are very respectful and receptive to us. We feel worthy and human around Self-Help staff.”

“Everything starts with Self-Help’s trainings,” Vivian said. “Those of us who pay attention to the trainings are doing very well. They’ve inspired a can-do spirit inside of me, and learning more effective methods for running my business has helped me a lot.”

“I have vowed that even when I stop receiving the micro-loans, I will still attend Self-Help training sessions because there is always so much to learn,” Vivian said.

“I am so grateful for the opportunities Self-Help has given me,” Vivian said. “With Self-Help on our side, us women are certain that we can achieve great things if we work hard and persevere.”