Charlotte and Budura work together, they’ve done so for years. One a widow, the other married with fifteen children between them, they run a metal-smith shop in their neighborhood. They make buckets, suitcases, chicken feeders and other items crafted out of metal with their own hands.
It’s not always been easy – the metal work or turning a profit. When these women started out they depended on loans from neighbors. Such small sums of borrowed money allowed them to get metal and iron sheets in small quantities, a bike’s worth of raw material at a time was all they could afford. Sometimes they could pay one worker. But functioning with small inventory and staff was limiting. They could do small things, not what they dreamed of or were capable of.
The smallness of things often wasn’t enough to support their families. Charlotte struggled to send her kids to school, often short of funds for tuition, books and supplies. She and Budura both remember empty tables when they could not even afford food. And neither liked the feeling of living indebted (literally) to their neighbors. When things didn’t sell at work, things didn’t happen at home.
But then these women stumbled upon Kazoza awhile back. They learned that loans for small businesses were possible. They decided to take the risk and borrow – 100,000 Burundian francs at first (about $68). They remained faithful at repayment and saw their capacity for borrowing and business increase.
They smile as they speak with pride about now going to reputable vendors to purchase metal sheets, vendor who would never have served them before with such small orders. They can afford to hire a car to pick up orders; bike’s are not too small for their volume. They’ve hired a few more employees. They now turn a consistent profit with their metalwork. They are growing!
The increase in business is felt at home, too. Now there’s never an empty table at dinnertime. The children attend school, their basic needs being met. And they are now neighborhood patrons – now they loan money to their neighbors and offer help to those in need. The entire neighborhood seems to benefit from these women, this business.
This week Charlotte and Budura came in to Kazoza with their other lending partners, Adline and Alice. Their group, Twisununure (which means let’s come together and grow), is applying for a larger loan. This time they hope to secure $400 to fund their successful enterprises.
These women give God the glory for carrying them through many hardships. They’ve been at the end of their rope, ready to give up, yet aware of God’s presence and grace. They point to Kazoza as one of God’s graces to them, loans and support to move their business and households forward toward viability. Now they even have moved from survival to productivity and generosity like the woman of Proverbs 31.