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How Mercy became a somebody

Mercy’s successful gardening business.

A few years ago, Mercy had almost lost hope. With no job, few skills and complete dependency on her husband, she could barely afford the basic necessities of life for her children.

Like so many women in her community, Mercy had been pulled from school as a girl, and, without an education, she had no way to earn an income. By age 35, Mercy had given birth to six children, who she and her husband could barely support.

The meagre proceeds from the family farm were controlled by her husband, and Mercy got little for household and family expenses, such as food, medicine, and school fees.

Happily, she got the chance to change her life for the better when she got involved in a Village Savings and Loan initiative funded by Plan.

Once Mercy was enrolled in a group with other women from her village, she started attending training on a wide range of issues, from family planning and household management to financial literacy and small business development. Next, she took on odd jobs on the farms of other community members to make whatever money she could to start saving and pooling funds with the others in her group.

After making small contributions for eight months, Mercy then took out a loan of about $200 to try to improve the family’s income by investing in cash crops, like vegetables, mango, cassava and cashews. Successful, she paid that loan off and soon took out a second one for $400, which she used to expand the farm.

Testament to the incredible untapped potential of women to contribute to family finances and the local economy, today Mercy is not only the family breadwinner – she also employs 20 other people!

“I never knew my life could turn around like this,” says Mercy. “Not only can I pay for my children’s medical bills and school fees, but I am somebody in the community.”

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