There is a new addition to Matara…a baby girl named Irankunda. Her name means ‘God loves me’ and the chosen name reflects her parents’ knowledge that their daughter is cherished by God, being born into a good place and at a good time in their lives. This family is feeling God’s love, and expressed as much in the naming of their little girl.
There are other new things happening in Matara these days. In the last couple of months Donatien, our micro-finance trainer, has offered training sessions on the basic principles of micro-finance. He taught our friends about loans and repayment, investment in local enterprises and income-generating ventures to help earn money for their families. As of today, twenty individuals have been certified to participate in this in-house program.
This group is the first within Matara to attempt to start their own businesses. They have each qualified for a $50 loan to start something and learn how to run a successful business. Ten of the group members decided to begin making charcoal to sell to local communities. Some are buying beans, a staple for the local diet, and trying to sell in the nearby marketplace. One man is doing shoe repair. Others are providing wood for construction sites in the vicinity. For all of them, creating and running a business is a new thing. So learning by trial and error is to be expected during this initial season of the micro-finance project.
Donatien has noticed that while the business people were initially a bit shy to ask for his help, as the weeks progress they are seeing his value as a business counsellor and resource for them as they develop a new set of skills. Now he regularly meets with these friends to offer advice, help them think through rudimentary business strategy and related matters. He is pleased to report that 100% of the new business people are repaying their loans on time! Donatien, as a member of the CFB staff, is in Matara 5 days a week. His constant presence helps the participants to learn, offering daily accountability and daily access to advice. So far, it seems the friends in Matara are learning about the basics of business and enjoying the challenges of entrepreneurship!
So babies continue to be born… as well as a new crop of business people!