By Samuel Baafi; Edited by Katie Hackett
Provider, bread winner, budding entrepreneur—these are the words that come to mind when Gladys tells her story.
She's a 45-year-old mother of five. For years she and her husband, Kweku, were struggling to make ends meet. They started out their marriage farming two acres of land, but it barely produced enough food to feed themselves.
When their first child was born, Gladys was determined to provide something better. She started a business selling "kenkey," a staple food in Ghana made from ground maize.
This business kept the family afloat, but barely. Over the years Gladys would try different business ventures to keep the growing family fed. Ten years ago, she started a breakfast operation, serving cocoa drinks and bread to her customers. But even with the extra income, the family was forced to make sacrifices.
The children couldn’t attend school regularly because there was no consistent income to pay for their tuition and learning materials. They stayed home when tuition couldn’t be paid and helped their mother in her businesses.
A breakthrough came a few years ago when Gladys came in contact with World Vision and was able to apply for a small loan. She borrowed 400 Cedis—about 130 CAD. With support and guidance in business management, Gladys’ business started to grow rapidly.
She was able to repay her first loan and over time, as her businesses expanded and she was able to take more loans, her personal capital grew as well.
“I am a proud and happy woman,” she says. “The loan has helped me greatly; two more businesses have emerged out of the loan, with improvement in existing businesses."
Today Gladys has five profitable businesses.
She’s acquired three more acres of farmland and has employees who work it. She’s purchased a refrigeration unit to store her cocoa drinks, which means she can mass produce them and store them without spoiling. Just recently she bought a taxi which her husband operates, transporting people from their secluded community to larger centres. She even has a small truck which ferries women and their goods to the market on market days.
Life is looking better for Gladys’ family.
“More important than all these, I have been able to put my children through school,” she says. “My first born, Vivian, is on her way to university and the second, Augustine, will be enrolling in senior high school this term. The other three, Frank, Veronica and Akwasi are all enrolled in preparatory primary and junior high school as well, because I want the best possible education for them.”
Gladys and Kweku added a two-bedroom concrete addition to their mud house. Gladys is proud that she can provide for her family, while creating jobs for people in her community.
“I aim at setting up other businesses and continue to have improved family income that will aid the dreams of my family,” she says.
Help a hardworking family provide for their children. Invest in a small business.