South Africa’s Inspirational Women
Now that Women’s Development Businesses (WDB), Kiva’s new field partner in South Africa, has begun posting loans, maybe you’re curious about who their clients are. During my time as a Kiva Fellow I have had the opportunity to meet many of WDB’s clients and visit their businesses. Not only have I been able to see how they are making use of their loans, but I’ve also heard about their past struggles and future hopes. I want to share with you snapshots into the lives of two of WDB’s clients from the Mpumalanga province:
Gladys Mkuonto, 40, has been lending from WDB for the past several years. She operates a retail business in order to provide for herself and her daughter, a 16 year-old in 11th grade. Before her most recent loan, Gladys was selling sweets, children’s toys, and other small items at school. With the 1,500 Rand (about $215) she received from WDB recently she purchased a fridge, allowing her to also sell frozen meats and juice. Now she earns about 800 Rand per month, which is enough to support her daughter and allow Gladys to return to school as well. Though she is currently studying to become a teacher, she has no plans to give up her business in the future. The fridge that she bought with WDB’s loan helped her retail businesses grow, and she plans to continue the growth by building a spaza (or convenience store) from which to sell. Gladys is a busy woman juggling many responsibilities as a single parent, but with the help of WDB she will continue to improve life for herself and her daughter and pursue her dreams.
Ntombitutui Ndhloru is a single mother as well with two children in school. Though she receives a child support grant from the government, she still works hard to make sure that her children will be able to receive a better education than she had. Ntombitutui’s business has evolved over the years; she started by selling chickens but now has a cook shop where she makes snack foods and sweets. Thanks to her brother-in-law, who gave her the trailer that she sells from, she was able to open a food stall. With her last loan from WDB of 1,500 Rand, she purchased potatoes, oil, flour, yeast and other foods for preparation from the market. Most of her clients are local teachers and school children, but she says that her shop is busy all day long. Clients pay around 5 or 10 Rand for fries, pap (a South African staple made of maize), and other snacks. Each month she earns between 1,000-1,200 Rand in profits from these sales. At only 33 years old, Ntombitutui still has many years ahead to grow her business – she hopes that with WDB’s help, she will one day be able to open a restaurant.
Gladys and Ntombitutui represent just two of WDB’s 54,000+ clients. Their stories illustrate that with hard work and good business skills, WDB is helping thousands of rural South African women to improve their daily lives and the lives of their families.
To support women like Gladys and Ntombitutui, join WDB’s lending team and look out for WDB loans on Kiva!
To learn more about how you can meet inspirational entrepreneurs around the world, check out the Kiva Fellows Program.
EB Moore is a KF13 currently working in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa to assist Women’s Development Businesses in the early stages of their Kiva partnership. She is grateful that she has been able to meet so many inspiring women and is eager to help WDB enhance their impact through working with Kiva.