Success Stories

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The United Methodist Church’s partnership with FINCA is transforming families. Hundreds of potential entrepreneurs have received business skills training, loans, and life-changing support.
 

Improving Lives, One Microloan at a Time

The United Methodist Microfinance Connection is transforming lives. Microloans provided to entrepreneurs by your donations are helping develop communities, build connections and understanding in families, and improve the lives of real people around the globe.

Karen Ujereh, United Methodist Microfinance Connection’s missionary in Malawi, leads the business skills training, and has provided training for more than 2,000 individuals. Hundreds have received loans from FINCA!

The stories below show how The United Methodist Microfinance Connection’s partnership with FINCA is changing lives.

 

Kennedy Mussa

 Malawi
Clothing business operator and grocery shop owner

Kennedy Mussa, from Malawi’s Neno district located near Blantyre, is 39 years old. He was fortunate to complete high school, and after graduating he found a good job as a clerk at a government agency in Dowa.

Unfortunately, Kennedy and many employees were let go when the government cut the budget. With an almost non-existent job market, Kennedy decided to complete a wood working and metal welding course and started making window and door frames for homes and businesses. However, the economic conditions in Dowa began to deteriorate. Since the Dowa district’s economy relies on the tobacco industry, falling tobacco prices forced Kennedy to realize that his business could not thrive in Dowa.

With his wife and three small children, Kennedy decided to move to Dedza near Lilongwe. With no savings and no capital to invest, he sold tomatoes in the streets. There he met Brian Ngomano, the United Methodist pastor of the Dedza circuit, who bought tomatoes from Kennedy and shared the word of God with him. Kennedy was moved by the pastor’s knowledge of the Bible, and decided to join his congregation. When the pastor announced that the church had a program to deliver business development training, Kennedy participated in one of the first training workshops facilitated by Karen Ujereh, a United Methodist missionary. He was then connected with FINCA Malawi, a local microfinance provider through the UMC Microfinance Connection. Kennedy applied for a loan and was immediately qualified by the FINCA loan officer. He received a loan of US$250.00 on July 19, 2013.

Kennedy decided to invest the money in a new business entirely: selling second-hand clothes. He used the funds to travel to Lilongwe to purchase three bales of good quality trousers and jackets, and on his first day of business generated sales of US$219.00! Since that first day his business has continued to progress.

Two months after completing business development training through the United Methodist Church and receiving his first loan from FINCA, Kennedy proudly reports that his family’s standard of living has greatly improved. They now enjoy better nutrition, housing, and of course, clothing! As just one example, his family was previously living in a very small home with a monthly rent of only US$8.00. They have recently been able to upgrade to a larger, more comfortable home, and have no worries about covering the US$25.00 per month rent. Kennedy is now planning to leave the management of the clothing business to his wife, and with a subsequent loan from FINCA, possibly open a grocery shop which he will manage. His dream is to eventually be able to purchase land and build a home they can call their own.

Bertha Makwasa

 Malawi
Grocery shop owner

Bertha Makwasa is from Dedza, near the commercial city of Blantyre. In 2011 she lost her husband, which left her responsible for their two small children. Before succumbing to malaria, Bertha’s husband advised her to start a business that could provide an income source for the family. Using the little money he had saved while working as an electrician, Bertha invested in a business selling firewood and packed flour. This generated a small income that Bertha used to tenderly care for her husband with the hopes of saving his life, while feeding her family and paying school tuition for her children.

Deeply affected by her husband’s death, Bertha stayed home for over three months. Her business completely dissolved due to expenses from the illness and funeral arrangements. Fortunately, her neighbor loaned her US$16.00 to start a food business selling tomatoes, cabbage, cooking oil, and salt. But the growth of her business was limited by the small amount of capital she had to invest.

Then one day, while chatting with her friend Agnes — from the UMC in Dedza — Bertha mentioned some concerns she had about recent activities in her own church. Agnes encouraged her to come to church with her one Sunday, which led to Bertha joining the United Methodist Church. Five months later, she received business training in a class taught by Karen Ujereh, a UMC missionary working in Malawi. This training, developed by the United Methodist Church and FINCA to provide access to capital for poor entrepreneurs seeking to start and grow their businesses, equipped Bertha with practical skills on how to operate a business successfully. She then acquired her first loan of US$188.00 from FINCA which she invested in her food business. Bertha also invested part of her loan into farming Irish potatoes, and expects to harvest twenty bags or more in the first harvest.

Since she received her training through the United Methodist Church, and her subsequent FINCA loan, Bertha has improved her family’s standard of living. Her daily earnings from her business have grown, and she can now afford to pay the tuition for her young sons Isaac and Shudita.

Bertha has ambitious plans, and hopes to create a brighter future for herself and her children. She plans to use her next FINCA loan to mold bricks – some to sell, and some to improve the foundation of her house. She will also invest part of her loan into growing her food business. Furthermore, she envisions venturing into commercial farming one day, harvesting at least 100 bags of maize (each 50 kg) every season.

 

Rosa León Martínez

 Mexico

When Rosa León Martínez first came to FINCA, she and her young children were struggling to get by. Rosa owned a small ceramics business, but, without the necessary capital, was unable to make a profit and get ahead. Despite the quality of her wares, any money Rosa made would go immediately towards supporting her family; Rosa was trapped in the cycle of poverty not because of laziness, but rather because no one would lend her a helping hand.
Now, 14 years after taking her first loan from FINCA, Rosa’s business is steadily growing. A series of small loans has given Rosa the means to buy materials in bulk and expand the variety of her wares, increasing profits and establishing her business as the first stop for gifts for weddings, birthdays, and any other sort of special occasion. Rosa appreciates and trusts her relationship with FINCA, saying,  “It’s been a long time. I think that’s why I feel good about it and I don’t want to part ways.”

 

German Galicia Villalva

 Mexico
Grocery shop owner

German Galicia Villalva, 24 years old, and his parents, own a grocery store in Emiliano Zapata. German’s parents have always valued education and supported him all the way through university, where he studied biotechnology engineering. However, in German’s final year of study, the family grocery store suffered some setbacks, and he wasn’t able to cover his living and studying expenses anymore. As he had not yet found a job in his field, German took a break from school and helped his parents find ways to put the business back on its feet. A neighbor introduced him to FINCA and its services: it was the perfect support they were hoping for.

“Our store offers one of the widest selections on the street”

Nancy Alvarado Alonzo

 Mexico
Seamstress | Current loan size: $585

Nancy Alvarado Alonzo lives in the municipality of Emiliano Zapata with her four children and her husband, who works in a nearby office. While their youngest son, Jesus Israel, is just one, his three older siblings are currently in school. After having worked in a clothing factory for three years, Nancy felt she had gained sufficient experience to start her own business with confidence. She left her factory job and started working from home, assembling garments for a clothing company. Nancy soon realized that she would need a new sewing machine in order to grow her business and increase her income. However, she couldn’t afford to buy one.

Then Nancy’s best friend introduced her to FINCA and invited her to join the Berlín Village Bank. With her FINCA loan, Nancy purchased a new sewing machine, and since then, she has been designing and making her own clothes while continuing to fill orders for the company. She keeps some of her creations for her family, and sells the rest in her community. The response of her customers response has been quite positive so far, and Nancy sees her current activities as merely the first step towards a successful venture: she dreams about opening her own clothing store where she can display and sell all her creations.

“I love working because it allows me to help and support my family […and] I always push myself to make sure my clients are satisfied.”