A loan of $2,500 helped a member 10 sacks of charcoal and 5 barrels of oil (locally known as «Kafindondo»).

Baraka Office Group's story

Ekanga L. is a businesswoman who sells charcoal wholesale. She is the one raising her hand in the photo and is vice-president of the loan group Baraka Office. She is 42, a widow and mother of six children, all enrolled in school. Her eldest daughter is in the first year at university, and the others are in secondary or primary school. Her husband died after a long illness, around the year 2000, of HIV AIDS.

Ekanga L. lives in the Murara neighborhood, township of Karisimbi, and she has a charcoal depot in the Birere district. Moreover, in order to maximize her income, she also sells palm oil wholesale in the market of KIBABI. Ekanga L. began her business with her own funds around 2002, before the eruption of the Nyiragongo volcano, which completely destroyed the economic life of the town of Goma. She was selling fritters with a working capital of $12.50. And all this after her husband's death.

In view of her family responsibilities and living alone, she was just scraping by. However, in 2004, she received a first loan from the MFI Hekima. From then on, she was able to reestablish her social and economic equilibrium. Ekanga L. has already managed to achieve some family goals, notably the purchase of a plot of land. If God grants her long life, Ekanga L. intends to continue to be ambitious enough, despite being a widow, to build a house for her children. With the loan from Hekima, widow Ekanga L. hopes to grow her sales by buying 10 sacks of charcoal (for her charcoal business) and 5 barrels of oil (locally known as «Kafindondo».)

Ekanga L. says that the major challenge to her charcoal business is the multiple attacks along the route carried out by outlaws who are hiding in the Virunga National Park, in the east of the DRC, and Rwandan Hutu rebels from the FDLR. Also the police and administrators make difficulties, especially since the State has threatened to bring to justice those they say are destroying the environment (people who sell wood from the national park). As for her oil sales business, she sometimes buys a load of spoiled oil or poor quality oil which has lost all its flavor, since this oil is produced by local artisans in the province of Kindu-Maniema and way up north near Lake Kivu, around Beni, or Mangina, and sometimes stored in dirty jerrycans or rubber containers that are fragile, etc. This can cause her an enormous loss.

Widow Ekanga L. would like to thank the MFI Hekima for the loans that she receives without collateral since it is thanks to these loans that she is managing to support her orphaned children. The Baraka Office group is composed of eight women.

In this group: Ekanga , Mulamba , Bonve, Kahindo, Therese, Oleka, Bashani, Kavira

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Translated from French by Kiva volunteer Teresa Kramer

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