Fatmata Barrie

“Fatmata Barrie is an empowered thanks to the support by European Union, Welthungerhilfe and SEND”

Fatmata Barrie lost all hope when her business didn’t survive the test of time during the COVID 19 pandemic. With her eldest daughter seriously sick and a husband whose agricultural produce perished due to the travel restrictions, surviving a day meant living for months. Most of what they had saved was spent on treating their daughter. Efforts to borrow money to feed and take care of their home proved fruitless.Fatmata’s last resort was to use the money for feeding to start an income generation business selling groundnut paste and “porcheh” (pounded rice). With the inception of the Improved Access to Sustainably Managed Micro-finance and WaSH project, she was among other thirty participants who were selected and trained on leadership, business and entrepreneurial skills, promotion of hygiene and WaSH facilities. As part of the start-up kit for the full functioning of the VSLA, their group received 4.5 million leones as a revolving loan. This brings together 30 households to contribute to construct 10 toilets and EMAS water pumps using their resources and other local materials available in the community. It also allows members easier access to resources to increase their income generation. With this, every week she would contribute her savings of 5000 leones into their VSLA.

"I could only afford to save 5000 leones every week because we were starting life afresh. Life was difficult back then but I had to be strong and stay resilient."

As months passed, Mrs Barrie took a loan of 500,000 to expand her business.

"When I took the loan, I bought about eight gallons of palm oil. When sold, the profit was nothing compared to my groundnut and pounded rice sales. It was unimaginable!With about one million, one hundred and fifty thousand leones as profit, I bought about 19 gallons of palm oil, this time to sell to traders from neighboring communities.There is so much to invest in if monies are spent wisely." She smiled.

As she dedicatedly displayed trust among group members, she took bigger loans to expand her business. Now, she buys 40 gallons during the harvesting season of palm oil.Despite gradually regaining her financial freedom, Fatmata continues to sell her previous goods but this time, in larger quantities.

Today she is among proud successful women trading in palm oil in her community.Using her savings from the VSLA she has also constructed a water well and latrine for her household's use.

“My children are no longer at risk of fetching water from a distance. I am so happy! Now, it is my wish to own a store where I can store my goods until I get customers to buy them, Mrs Barrie confidently expressed.