New Hope for Mary

Mary stands inside her store, with shelves stocked and a satisfied look on her face

Mary keeps her store stocked with difficult-to-find items for sale in her community of Abompe

Meet Mary, a 28 year-old mother of three living in the community of Abompe in the Ashanti Region of Ghana. Mary joined Self-Help’s microcredit program in late 2019 and began building the business she operates today. Prior to joining the program, Mary was farming with her husband and would occasionally embark on trading activities in the surrounding villages, which wasn’t always successful.

Reflecting on her journey, Mary shared, “I attended senior high school for a year and half, but in my second year, I had to drop out because my parents couldn’t afford my school expenses. After leaving school, there wasn’t much to do and I resorted to early marriage.”

“The pain of tasting being in school and dropping out eventually was unbearable,” she recalls.  “I didn’t want to do anything, farming was the last thing I wanted to do but there wasn’t an option. I didn’t have capital to start anything meaningful and I had already given birth to my second child. Things were difficult and I didn’t know what to do.”

Then Mary learned about Self-Help International’s micro-credit program. During a financial literacy training session in the nearby village of Beposo, Mary and about four other women approached the program officers and expressed interest in the program. Self-Help’s micro-credit team took Mary’s group through the initial training sessions and eventually the group members received their first loan of GHS 200 each (approximately $40 USD) in October 2019.

“When I received that money, I had a new hope,” Mary recalls.  “I told myself that I was going to turn things around and make something out of my life.

“I especially paid attention to the savings and business management lessons. I had a mission to become a business owner and be able to support my kids’ education, so I ventured into selling to the neighboring communities. I kept saving and repaying my loans at the same time. It was difficult combining it with farming but I was determined to make it work.”

Now, in a period of three years, through consistent training, regular supply of loans, and periodic monitoring, Mary has been able to establish herself in the community, trading in commodities that are difficult to come by at Abompe. She maintains a fully stocked shop – the only one at Abompe.

“When I look back to 2018, before I heard about your program, my case seemed almost hopeless, but you came in and gave all of us here hope, a new found hope that everything is possible if only we are willing to work on it. Now, I can confidently say, I will fight and win the battle my parents couldn’t win, although they were fighting really hard. My kids haven’t started schooling yet, because of the distance they have to cover from here to the closest village with a school- either Beposo, Abasua or Bonkwaso- and that is my major worry now. There is no school here. Nevertheless, I am still preparing and saving towards the time they can properly enroll. Until then, I will continue to apply all the business management practices lessons you offer. They really help if you go by it. I feel strong, confident, and independent again- the same feeling I had when I started school at the senior high.”