A loan of $4,300 helped a member purchasing 2 bags of corn, 4 bags of manioc flour, two heaps of firewood.

Malaika Group's story

Yalala C. N. is an entrepreneur, producing a local drink known as 'Rutuku'. She is wearing a multicoloured jacket and waving her hand in the photograph. She is a reliable customer of the Malaika credit association, and is a 57 year-old widowed mother of four. Her two daughters and two sons are all married and have their own homes. Yalala lives in the popular Nyabushongo quarter, a shanty town in Goma, in the Karisimbi region. Her husband passed away in 2008, following a short illness.

Rutuku is a 47% strength alcoholic beverage, made up of a solution of manioc flour fungus, corn, sorghum etc, heated to over 180 degrees centigrade through a vase that is joined to a locally-designed chimney pipe. The refined condensed droplets are collected in a bowl and cooled to give the taste of strong whisky. Yalala began this business with her own money in 1984. She borrowed all the ingredients for Rutuku (corn, flour, firewood etc) from friends and acquaintances that she paid back after completion - this was a way of kick-starting and taking charge of her work. Given the costs of family demands and single life, it has been difficult for her to grow her business. However, with a loan from the Hekima microfinance association, she has discovered a social and financial equilibrium. Yalala says that she has already completed several family projects (the purchase of 2 plots of land, the construction of two houses, and supporting her children in their homes, as a supportive parent should do, amongst other projects). Yalala remains ambitious, despite being widowed, and aims to buy a large plot of land in a VIP quarter, like Himbi, Keshero, the Volcanoes etc. With a Hekima loan, Yalala wishes to increase her business revenue and buying two bags of corn, four bags of manioc flour and two heaps of firewood.

She explains that the main difficulty of producing this drink is down to credit sales and the scarcity of firewood (since the State has begun to clamp down on those who destroy the environment, such as sellers of wood from national parks). Furthermore, sometimes when the ingredients do not mix properly, a different liquor forms, and regular customers refrain from buying it. Given her advanced age and the difficult production process of this drink, Yalala wishes to modify her business activity, by also selling general products from her home.

Yalala wishes to thank Hekima for the loans that she receives without any material guarantee, as thanks to these loans she can see to the needs of her children and grandchild. She recognises Hekima as the local bank that will support her, as she no longer has a mother, father, nor husband. She will do her best to maintain this good trusting business relationship, respecting Hekima's loan contract and policy.

The Malaika group is made up of 11 members, mostly women. They are wearing a uniform in recognition of the international day of the woman on the 8th of March 2019. (There is also another individual in the photograph who does not belong to the microfinance group, hence 12 people in total in the photo).

In this group: Mawazo, Yalala, Bahati, Mukeshima, Faida, Riziki, Ntihizabose, Anne, Bwira, Mapendo, Riziki

Translated from French by Kiva volunteer Danielle Treharne

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