Profit earned from trading vegetables that she produced on her small farm has allowed widowed mum-of-four Shifine Mamo to send all of her children to school.
And following the recent graduation of her son from technical college, she is determined that her other children will too finish their education.
45-year-old Shifine is a founder member of the village savings and credit cooperative (SACCO) established with support from Self Help Africa in Gerda Busa village, Ethiopia, eight years ago.
She has received several loans from the local SACCO, and has used them to buy two half acre plots of land close to the village, has bought a pump and other equipment to irrigate the crops, and now has two productive vegetable plots, from which she is growing and selling several crops of onion, tomato and other vegetables, each year.
Last year she borrowed 6,000 Ethiopian Birr (€250) to invest in farm improvements, and at her most recent harvest sold her produce for five times that amount. ‘It is hard to raise your children without their father, but it would have been much harder for me if I hadn’t been able to start this business with help from the savings and credit cooperative,’ she said.
Shifine Mamo sells some of the produce that she grows to local traders, but uses it also for her family. ‘We now have a much better diet,’ she said. Shifine is optimistic about the future, and believes that her role as a member of her local savings and credit cooperative can benefit others in her community.
‘It is pleasing to see others saving and borrowing from our group, and getting the chance to increase their income and make better lives for themselves,’ she adds.