A loan of $5,000 helped a member to purchase two bags of maize, two bags of cassava flour, about ten stacks of firewood, etc.

Sheria Group's story

A. Vumilia N. is an entrepreneur who produces a local drink known as "Rutuku". On the photo, she is the one raising her hand, with a little smile. An excellent client of the Sheria solidarity group (Sheria means laws, regulations), she is 50, a widow and mother of five children, four girls and a boy. The boy is the youngest and he attends 6th grade. The four girls have their own homes. A. lives in the village of Kiziba II, a shantytown on the outskirts of Goma, a commune of Nyiragongo. Her husband died in 2006 after a lengthy battle against diabetes.

Rutuku is basically an alcoholic beverage about 47% proof, brewed from a mixture of fermented cassava flour, maize, sorghum, etc. It is heated to more than 180C in a vessel connected to a locally-designed chimney pipe. The droplets resulting from the evaporation process are collected in a bowl and cooled to achieve the taste of strong Whiskey liquor, which the customers enjoy.

A. started her business with her own money, an initial capital of $20. Soon after, she found out about the Hekima MFI and received her first loan of $50 to strengthen her business. With a new loan from the Hekima MFI, A. hopes to increase her sales by buying two bags of maize, two bags of cassava flour, about ten stacks of firewood, etc.

A. has explained that the main challenges of producing the local beverage Rutuku are the sales on credit and the lack or scarcity of firewood, especially now that the state has already taken steps to impose criminal sanctions on anyone who harms the environment (people selling wood from the national park). Moreover, when the mixture of ingredients doesn’t dissolve properly, the customers don’t like the beverage and are reluctant to buy it.

Given her advancing age and the harsh conditions surrounding the production of the beverage, A. wants to make changes to her activities by adding a new business selling clothes and various items from Kampala, Uganda. She also plans to build a comfortable house on her plot.

A. is grateful for the loans that the Hekima MFI grants her without any material guarantees because these funds allow her to support herself and provide for the needs of her children and grandsons. She recognizes the Hekima MFI as the local bank dedicated to helping the poor and the widows.

The Sheria group consists of 17 female members. All members are wearing a uniform in solidarity and unity to commemorate the International Women’s Day of March 8, 2010.

In this group: Kaurwa, Geneview, Luanda, Maombi, Kahindo, Bunyere, Vumilia , Dina, Tabu, Mwisha, Bahati , Bahati, Eliza, Mwamini, Kahindo, Tulinabo, Ndoole
*not pictured

Translated from French by Kiva volunteer

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