“Now with Lumana, I will never buy on credit again.” A few microloans changed Linda from a street hawker to a manager of a plantain business with seven employees. Her simple house hides her success—the mismatched wooden planks reveal slits of sunlight in her walls, and the tin roof sings with every raindrop. But her priority is improving her business, supporting her employees, and building a better future for her children. So she spends her days separating plantain snacks into the individual bags that her six saleswomen will hawk on the street for about 50 cents each. She pays each worker about one fifth of their daily revenue, then uses some of the revenue to buy new supplies, pay the seventh worker—a full-time cook who prepares the plantain chips—and then manages to save enough to send her three children to school. She is slowly building a savings account that she hopes will pay for her oldest daughter to start college in a couple years. When I asked about her goals, she responded like a true entrepreneur: first she wants to expand her business by hiring additional workers. Secondly she wants to send her children to school. Finally, she wants to have enough capital that she won’t need Lumana’s loans—full financial independence.
Linda reminded me about the purpose of microfinance. Only two years ago, she worked by herself, making all her product and then selling by herself. Today she provides steady work to seven other women, and she is continually improving her prospects for the future. All she needed was a $200 loan from Lumana to jump-start her business.