Gladys Embodies the Entrepreneurial Spirit

By Lydia Adomako – Micro-Credit Program Officer

 

Gladys and one of her children.

Gladys is a 34-year-old mother of four from Abompe, Ghana, a small community outside of the city of Kumasi where Self-Help International headquarters is located. She has been with the Micro-credit Program for less than two years – she joined the program in October 2019 when Self-Help’s micro-credit team was restarting the program in Abompe.

Prior to joining the program, Gladys relied primarily on subsistence farming.

“I could barely produce enough food for my family’s consumption. Even though I was farming for the family, it wasn’t appreciated much because I could not financially contribute to the family’s income,” Gladys said. “Life was so difficult for me as a woman. I couldn’t afford anything for myself, even basic necessities.”

When the women in Abompe were forming their lending groups, nobody wanted Gladys in their group because they did not see her as credit worthy and able to pay back loans. But the Self-Help’s team took a leap of faith on Gladys because they believed in her potential.

“When I received my first money of GHC 200 (around $50 USD), I had still not settled on where to invest. I didn’t know how to begin; but because of the training Self-Help provided, I started looking around my community for a sought-after service that nobody was providing,” Gladys said.

“Because I wanted to start a new business and my financial capital was limited, I needed something that wasn’t capital intensive. I eventually settled on selling locally manufactured alcoholic beverages, and business was very good,” Gladys said.

In time, everybody was impressed with Gladys’ loan repayment.

“When I started my business, the first thing I bought was a “susu adaka” (savings container). I saved a portion of my profit each day in it, so that by the end of the month, I had enough to pay back my loan,” Gladys said.

“ Things started improving in my life. I could afford the basic necessities now. I could also support my family’s budget and the kids’ school expenses,” Gladys said. “My husband started showing me more respect and my opinion started counting in the house – that was very surprising and unusual.”

When Gladys’ loan amount was upgraded and she started receiving GHC 1000 (approx. 180 USD), she had other plans in mind.

“Drinking alcohol makes people hungry, and I realized most of my customers would buy my drinks and go to a different place looking for food to buy. When my loan increased, I decided to start selling food and it was going so well,” Gladys said.

“When I compare my life then and to my life now in 2021, it leaves me crying uncontrollably. I know if I had met Self-Help’s team earlier, my life would have been better than it is now – but as the saying goes, ‘It’s better late than never.’“

Gladys is an example of the strong, entrepreneurial women with which Self-Help’s Micro-Credit Program partners. These are women who want an opportunity to make a living for themselves and their families and who are willing to prove a point to themselves and their community and to all the people that doubted their ability to change their lives for the better.

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