A loan to one entrepreneur in Togo impacts his whole community

After growing up in Togo in a family with 9 children, Ayaovi began work in travel sales and real estate. However, he longed for a way to become a bigger part of his local community, so he started devoting his evenings and weekends to starting a fish business. 

It all started with 1 icebox and a single ring burner stove, along with the knowledge Ayaovi gleaned from his mother, who had also sold fish in their community. She had taught all her children about her business as they grew up. 

Ayaovi showing off his grill

About 6 months later, Ayaovi’s fish business was booming and it became a full-time occupation rather than a pastime. The community fell in love with his “secret fish marinade.”

Ayaovi used a few small loans from Kiva to buy parasols and tarps so that his business could continue operating in the rain. Another loan enabled him to buy a fridge, purchase extra stock and build a small eating area. 

The loans didn’t just help Ayaovi bring in extra cash - he continued investing in his business and his community. After a full year, he hired his first 2 employees to help prepare and serve the fish. He now employs a total of 9 locals: 1 manager, 2 chefs and 6 serving staff. Each member of the team is given in-house restaurant training. Ayaovi pays for all their meals and medical bills if they fall ill. 

Ayaovi and his employees

Running his fish business involves hard work and inconvenient hours, but Ayaovi says “It’s a noble profession… it allows me to be part of and serve my community.” 

Based on customer feedback, Ayaovi plans to use his next loan to purchase a rotisserie and begin offering roast chicken with his same secret marinade that the community loves so much. 

Ayaovi hopes to retire one day. For him, retirement involves buying land, running a small bar and restaurant and spending his days surrounded by his grandchildren. 

Kiva loans to entrepreneurs like Ayaovi have a magnified impact. They don’t just improve his life - they also impact the lives of all his employees and anyone who gets a taste of his secret sauce! Click here to lend to Togolese entrepreneurs that are making a difference in their communities.  

About the author

Channing Fisher.

Channing first witnessed the ability of entrepreneurship to empower people while studying Spanish in Guatemala. Throughout college, she became interested in microfinance while working in business development in the Netherlands and studying the effects of tourism on Caribbean economies. After graduating from Principia College in 2018 with degrees in Political Science and Business, she began work for a Santa Barbara-based nonprofit and later found Kiva. She's passionate about communicating and sharing the work done at Kiva and elsewhere in the international development space.