A Baker’s Story
Sekyere Krobo is a farming community in the Wasa East district of the Western region of Ghana. The district has a population of about 81,000. The community is about seven kilometres away from the district capital and has basic amenities including electricity, borehole water, a community clinic and basic schools, but little access to funds to support their micro businesses; especially to purchase necessary fertilizer and improved seeds for small scale farming.
The location of this community makes it challenging for some MFIs in the district capital to grant loans. Most of the villagers do not have bank accounts and so have no records of their earnings, and therefore are unable to obtain micro loans from banks and other financial providers.
As part of its Area Development activities, World Vision trained some women in the community on how to make soap and process cassava to help supplement their incomes. Cassava is one of the major food crops produced in the community, and knowing how to make a popular food called ‘gari’ made from processed cassava was a useful skill to learn. Providing women with this skill has improved food security within the community, and brought an end to cassava going to waste during peak seasons.
In addition to the production of soap and gari, VisionFund Ghana, in partnership with World Vision, has been providing small loans to support the women in this community to expand their businesses and also develop additional skills so that they can generate enough income to care for and educate their children.
Margaret is one woman who took advantage of the opportunity the partnership brought, and is currently proud of being the only bread baker in her community.
After two years of facing embarrassment with local money-lenders, today she conducts her business with a sense of pride. ‘The enticing smell that comes with baking bread makes my customers hurry to buy my bread,’ she says.
“I learnt how to bake bread from a benevolent person in Adabraka, a suburb of Accra and I travelled back to my village to establish my own bakery about five years ago,” says Margaret.
“During the first two years of starting my business, I bought baking flour and other ingredients on credit and could only pay after I had sold all of the bread at the community market, and sometimes at home. Business was stressful (mixing the dough, baking and retailing each loaf to realize a minimal profit). At times when sales were bad and I could not sell all the bread, my creditors would come demanding payment, and if I was unable to make the full payment, they would embarrass me. Business was not exciting anymore, I lost my self-respect, and I wished for a change. That is when l heard of and joined VisionFund Ghana’s loan group.”
Margaret’s first loan of GHS 300 (USD66) helped her pay in advance for all the ingredients required for baking, which helped her reduce the cost of raw material.
“I was able to buy four bags of flour for a week and wholesale the bread made to retailers from in and around my community,” she says. After three loan cycles, Margaret is confident that she no longer needs to borrow.
She is now self -sufficient and is currently running the business with her own money. Her business has even created jobs for others. Women from other communities buy bread from her and re-sell them in their own villagers.
Margaret has four children who are all grown and married with their own families. To support her children, she has adopted three of her grandchildren and is responsible for their upbringing which includes education and health care.
“My wish is to be able support my grandchildren to achieve their dreams of becoming nurses and teachers. I also wish to expand the bakery, have improved baking equipment, and double the bread production in the coming years”.
By Raphael Ayitey (Marketing Coordinator, VisionFund Ghana)