Mabel Bounces Back from COVID-19 Challenges

By Lydia Adomako – Micro-Credit Program Officer

Mabel and her daughter in her shop.

In 2012, Mabel joined the microcredit program in Timeabu, a small farming community in the Ashanti Region of Ghana. As a single mother, the loans Mabel has received have helped her enroll all five of her children in school. She has also been able to expand the shop she owns in the community, and she has been able to build a new home for her and her family.

Over the years, Mabel has distinguished herself as a sort of catalyst in the community: nothing good or important happens in Timeabu without Mabel’s involvement. Self-Help International staff refer to her as the, “Chief of Timeabu.”

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mabel almost went bankrupt because fewer people purchased things from her shop. Many people preferred to stay at home to maintain physical distancing or were using the resources they already had available. In addition to losing her shop income, Mabel wasn’t able to earn money as a cook for the government’s school feeding program in her community because the schools were closed for most of the year.

In order to provide for her family, Mabel chose to use some of the few remaining items in her shop instead of buying from others or outside the community. When Self-Help staff visited her shop in March 2020, they found it virtually empty. She came to Self-Help again for help to restart her business in June 2020.

“I had hit rock bottom and looking at things then, recovering from my losses felt almost impossible; but I wasn’t willing to let this pandemic clamp me down like this,” Mabel said. “I wanted to fight back, and Self-Help was there with me through that fight.”

“Self-Help assisted me in restarting [my business], even though I still owed them from my previous loan,” Mabel continued. “I identified the commodities the community needed most and invested the loan there. In no time, I was recovering faster than I thought was possible. I made gains within a short period of time.”

When Self-Help visited Mabel in June 2021, she had started building a store with two shops, the very first of its kind in Timeabu.

“I hope to finish this building by the end of the year so that I can move my shop there for 2022,” Mabel said.

Mabel is not only a partner in the microcredit program – she is also a Community Coordinator for the Teen Girls Club in Timeabu. She is a strong advocate and mentor for TGC participants.

“I am very happy to be a coordinator. I don’t only facilitate the girls’ club; I also learn a lot. For example, when the girls are having their reading classes, I sit in with them,” Mabel said. “Through those lessons, my English is improving, I am able to form and also understand simple sentences, something I thought I would never know how to do.”

“I have been to have so many new experiences as a club coordinator – the list is never-ending,” Mabel added.

“I have felt so empowered since partnering with Self-Help. I am consulted whenever the chief is seeking any form of community development- whether from the government, NGOs, or individuals. I like the life I am living.”