Insightful thoughts from Tango Phiri on Orant's Financially Empowering Microloans for Women Program.
Mobile Money Agent Patricia Simbi
Patricia Simbi is one of Orant’s Financially Empowering Microloans for Women participants. She hails from Kalungulu Village and runs a mobile money booth. Before Patricia’s involvement with Orant, she faced fortifying challenges. These challenges shaped her into the woman she is today: strong, independent, hardworking, and smart.
“I was in an abusive marriage,” Patricia explains, “My marriage was a living hell. My husband would stay out late. I was the one who was providing for the kids, including him. But I overcame it, thank God. I left the marriage. I am now a happy soul.”
35 year old Patricia lives with her two children, her sick mother, and her elder sister. Providing for her family is a full time preoccupation.
A friend introduced Patricia to the mobile money sector. Patricia worked as a mobile money agent in her friend’s booth for 6 months before her friend quit. At this crossroads, Patricia decided to invest her own earnings in the mobile money business. “My friend gave me a chance to continue running the business. She allowed me to use her SIM card and the booth. I only had to put in my capital.”
This new opportunity did not come without hardship. “In this business,” Patricia says, “for you to make good commission, you always need to have enough money. In both your phone and in cash. Considering my small capital, I couldn’t make transactions of more than 50,000 kwacha. Thus, customers were returning and I couldn’t assist them. I was losing business opportunities. With such a small capital, I could get a maximum of 30,000 kwacha commission per month. This wasn’t enough for my family’s needs. Let alone for savings.”
The balance of work life and family life was also a struggle. “My youngest daughter got critically sick for a whole week,” Patricia says. “I was supposed to take her to the hospital everyday for injections. I had to close my business for the week. There was no other hand to help. Worse still, I needed money to take care of my sick child. And I still had to put food on my family’s table. This drained money from my business.”
In 2018, Patricia was chosen as one of Orant’s 18 beneficiaries for the FEM for Women Program. “This could not have come at a better time,” she says. She received a loan from Orant for 150,000 kwacha. She used 100,000 towards her mobile money business capital. The rest, she used to buy fertilizer for her field. “From then, I started making good commissions. No customer returned without being assisted,” she says.
Scaling up her capital helped Patricia comfortably support her family. She no longer had to borrow from people who lent her money with 15% interest. Since, Patricia has been able to invest in a pig, a used SIM card, and a smartphone. “I am so thankful for Orant’s support as they give loans at zero interest,” she says.
Patricia is saving her earnings for purposeful purchases. “By December this year, I plan to buy a new SIM card. Unlike my current SIM card, this one will be registered in my name. I want customers to see my name pop up when they send or withdraw money,” she says with a smile.
Adding to that, Patricia plans to build her own house. She also plans to grow and diversify her business. “By the end of next year, I will not only be doing mobile money. I will venture into phone accessories.”
Patricia is a hardworking and capable mother and businesswoman. The challenges she faces are not a reflection of her character. They are a reflection of her situation. This is why Orant chooses to invest in people. By improving her situation with zero interest loans, Patricia has flourished. Like all FEM for Women participants, Patricia consistently pays back her loans in full.
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