Monica Remains Flexible and Resilient When Faced with Challenges

This report was written by Lydia Adomako, Micro-Credit Program Officer. It was edited by Jessica Crawford, Africa Program Specialist, and Megan Sehr, Development Director.

Monica in her shop.

Monica is 40 years old, a family woman, and a business owner in Nkawie Panin, a bustling small town outside of the city of Kumasi. She has been with Self-Help International’s micro-credit program since 2010. Monica is a seamstress by trade, but now she runs a small food store.

Before joining the micro-credit program, she had been operating her sewing  business from a tiny section of her family’s home because she wasn’t able to rent a space for her small business.

“It wasn’t easy attracting customers and getting people to do business with me in such a place. The house wasn’t well-positioned geographically,” Monica said. “It was almost impossible for people to identify the place; and with a sewing business, people need to see your designs and like them before they decide to bring their things to you. They must be convinced that you will meet their specifications. But here I was, operating from home!”

As Monica was thinking about how to make her business more well-known, she encountered Self-Help International.

“One day, my mother, who was a member of Self-Help’s micro-credit program, told me that Self-Help would be able to help me get my business established. I was overjoyed and I wanted to visit the Self-Help office that same day,” Monica said. “It was late in the day, though, and my mother said that her micro-credit group already had a meeting set up with Self-Help. She said I could meet the Self-Help team when they came to town.”

“I met the Self-Help team the following week, and I was so impressed. They were very nice and so courteous,” Monica said. “I felt like they knew about my struggles before I even shared them.”

“My first loan wasn’t enough to rent a space for my business, so I engaged in petty trading in the morning and, by mid-morning, I could start sewing the few fabrics people entrusted to me,” Monica said. “Self-Help taught me effective ways of saving money, and I made a conscious effort to practice those methods.”

“When I received my second loan, I showed the Self-Help staff how much I had been able to save, and they helped me buy a shop by the roadside that had been put up for sale. Business started booming,” Monica said.

Then, the unexpected happened.

Monica’s shop.

“Business was going well, but there was this nagging pain in my back and it kept worsening by the day,” Monica said. “It forced me to reduce the number of hours for working, which meant I was losing money. I visited the hospital, and the doctors told me to stop sitting for long hours or I would severely injure my spine. It was such a big blow to my family and me.”

All hope wasn’t lost – Self-Help was with Monica through that difficult time. The Self-Help team worked with Monica to help her change her business to a shop selling food and other necessities.

“Changing businesses wasn’t an easy thing to do. I didn’t even know where to start, but the Self-Help staff were there to guide me,” Monica said. “They helped me convert my shop into a store for food and other necessities, and they helped me fully stock it.”

“Self-Help’s assistance has been invaluable in my life, and the team’s help has also impacted my family’s life,” Monica said. “Now, I am able to provide for the needs of my three girls and send them to school. I also enjoy a lot of respect at home from my husband and my kids because I am able to contribute to the financial needs of the house.”