Survival for many of the world’s poor depends on a grocery item that may surprise you—charcoal. For most of us, the word conjures up lazy summer days filled with picnics and barbecues, but to poor Africans, who rely on charcoal for preparing meals and, more importantly, for boiling water to avoid diseases like typhoid and cholera, the word means life.
Ida Mwebaza sells charcoal in her home town of Iganga, Uganda. And because her product is one that nearly everyone needs to survive, her business is hot!
But because Ida could only afford to buy small amounts at a time for her store, her profits were also small. If she had access to more capital, she told us, she could buy larger quantities from her supplier at a reduced price, lowering her costs and making her business more profitable. Local banks don’t usually lend to the poor, however, because they have no collateral and no lending experience.
After reviewing Ida’s business plan, we loaned her the equivalent of US$200 from the Micro-Loan Ministry. It wasn’t long before she reported a 5-fold increase in sales!
Ida is just one of 1,426 who received a loan from Heaven’s Family in 2015. And although our borrowers are very poor, they have been very faithful at repaying their loans. Part of that success is due to the forming of God’s Love Groups with every 5-6 borrowers. GLGs provide vital discipleship, mentoring, accountability and support that helps each borrower succeed. Members also guarantee each other’s loans, learn how to save, and experience what “meeting each other’s needs” really means.
Education and training are vital to the success of these edgling business owners, so we offered 8 Small Business Training events to 694 students last year. The fruit from these efforts is very encouraging, so we hope to conduct many more!
We are excited to see what the Lord has planned for this year as we expand from 10 countries to 16. It’s such a blessing to see the smiles and confident faces of the poor among our spiritual family as they discover new ways to provide for their families.
Thank you for joining us on this incredible journey, wherever God leads us!