Refik has been married for thirty years and he is fifty-one years old. His two older daughters are married and the youngest one is twenty years old and still living with her parents and helping in the family business of olive groves. It is in the Albanian tradition that when children get married, parents give them part of what they own. This is exactly what Refik did: he gave his daughters two hundred olive trees, one hundred each. “There was not much left for me,” he says laughing. This is the reason why Refik is looking for a loan and this would mark his first time borrowing, he says.
Refik has been in the olive grove business for twenty years and has been successful at it. He loves taking full care of the trees and enjoying the results. His clients are locals or from the cities that come to him only to buy olive and make olive pickles and organic olive oil for their only use. Kindly note here, that Albanians consume large quantities of olive pickles and oil, therefore, the demand is high. Some other clients are olive oil producers who buy olives to generate profit out of them. The profit is decent, Refik claims, if someone knows how to take care of olive groves and harvest them. “It’s hard work throughout the year, but I love it,” he says.
About VisionFund Albania
VisionFund Albania is a micro-finance subsidiary of child hunger nonprofit World Vision International. Striving to improve child welfare, the organization offers a variety of loan products designed for rural, traditionally underserved clients and their families. These products include agriculture, business and household improvement loans, as well as "integration loans" targeted to help the poorest, most vulnerable Albanian households acquire value chain resources.
While VFA is focused on the empowerment of the poor overall, it pays special attention to women. About 60% of loans to entrepreneurs on Kiva go to women.