OF MARIE KAMARA
PUBLISHED MAY 19, 2020
“The Change That Brought Change”
Even with a population of 50.12% women in Sierra Leone, women suffer from marginalisation particularly in the areas of governance, development and labour. They dominate in the informal sector which is susceptible to poor working conditions, low salaries and high vulnerability to poverty. Women’s participation in crop farming and trade repairs stands at 65.8% and 21.9% respectively. Marie Kamara is one of the women actively involved in subsistence farming in the Western Area District.
The solution to Marie’s plight was not funding but a sustainable source of livelihood through entrepreneurial training and access to financial resources.
In 2018, SEND Sierra Leone and its partner TROCAIRE commenced the Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (WISE) project in the Western Area District in Sierra Leone. They encouraged women to create solidarity groups so that they could educate them and provide access to financial resources.
Madam Marie Kamara joined the solidarity group in Morabie in the Western Area Rural District. She attended a series of training in an attempt to expand her business. After successfully completing the training, she received her first loan facility from the Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship project to embark on an income-generating business for a period of four (4) months with minimal interest in November 2018. She invested this loan amount in her garden by buying fertilizer and seedlings to increase her crop yield. This action will prove very decisive as her garden produced more yield.
Madam Marie decided to sell food in the community to diversify her source of income for easier repayment of the loan with the extra yield her garden was producing. This venture allowed her to quickly repay her loan and start a retail business.
Marie received her second loan in the second phase of the project.This loan was also for a period of four months with minimal interest. Marie realised the demand for condiments and other household consumables and so when she received her second loan, she decided to invest in a retail business. Her retail shop sells household consumables such as gari, rice, sugar, salt, spices, sardines, toilet paper, etc.
Today, Madam Marie Kamara boasts of a retail shop, a food joint and a garden for farming.
The business training sessions that I received from the WISE project has empowered me greatly. SEND did not only support us with money after they made us form solidarity groups but they trained us on how to utilize the money efficiently. The knowledge from the business training I acquired has allowed me to broaden my business and grow from being a farmer to an owner of a small business.” said Marie Kamara
“The WISE project has instilled pride in all of us. We are a registered group that is recognized legally by the council with the help of SEND Sierra Leone. The creation and ownership of bank accounts to help manage the money we receive from SEND and earn from our businesses has exposed us to banking and this is helping us manage our finances better.”- Marie Kamara
Madam Marie Kamara is one of numerous beneficiaries of the Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship project in Western Area District. This project has empowered women economically and increased women’s participation in governance in the family, district and at the national level. The project has been able to train 196 women groups on business development, record keeping and financial management. In addition, the second phase saw 14 communities save up to 26, 650,000 Leones. About 80% of these funds have been given out as loans to other community members to invest in their business.