Regina Serwaa, because of her hard work, has reason to smile.
Regina Serwaa, like most entrepreneurs all over the world, is no stranger to hard work. Living in rural Ghana on the remote outskirts of Yawhima town, Regina resides with her husband and four children. With her husband unemployed and receiving only a tiny pension check, the task of providing for the brunt of the family’s needs has fallen squarely on Regina’s shoulders. Hers is the story of many women in Ghana. When she works and is successful in her endeavors, the family eats; so Regina works – and works diligently.
But when poverty is only one small failure away, such as a missed payment to a vendor or a bad month of sales, the stress of life can become almost unbearable. And as often happens when living on a razor’s edge, Regina’s business ran into trouble.
Four years ago, Regina started a business baking small, nutritious meat pies, which were distributed in the local schools. Her business then expanded, with distributers selling her pies in the local market and surrounding communities. Her ingenuity and hard work paid off with success. But when many of her distributers began to miss their required payment installments, things quickly went downhill.
As her revenue stream dried up and her debts mounted, the pie business collapsed – but not Regina. This resourceful woman regrouped and moved on. “I entered the selling of sandals and slippers two years ago after falling out of the pie business, in order to support my family’s upkeep,” she explains. “I have four children, three girls and one boy, who are all in school. I also have to take care of my mum and mother-in-law.”
Regina Serwaa sets out her shoes and sandals for another day of business.
“By the grace God has given me,
I laid a foundation as a wise builder,
AND SOMEONE ELSE IS BUILDING ON IT.
BUT EACH ONE SHOULD BUILD WITH CARE.”
1 CORINTHIANS 3:10 NIV
Then Regina was introduced to IAS’s regional microfinance partner in Ghana, AAP. Now, as the leader of the “Adom Ara Kwa” (“Only by God’s Grace”) microfinance group, Regina has a plan to get herself and her family back on their feet. As group leader, Regina oversees her group’s loan repayments and helps coordinate the cooperation among the women when one loan client has a business problem. You see, all the women in Regina’s group have pledged their support one to another, helping out with missed loan payments as well as business problems.
To date, Regina has sold her sandals and slippers while traveling from place to place, market to market. But now with the IAS/AAP funding available to her, Regina plans to open a shoe shop in Yawhima town. But this is only the first phase. Regina’s long-term goal is to rebuild her pie business, which is her entrepreneurial passion.
When Regina met IAS/AAP, she was looking for a hand-up, not a hand-out. Regina understands that without her hard work and effort, today’s hand-out will not feed her children tomorrow. Like all hard-working people reaching to overcome the cycle of poverty, Regina needs someone to come along-side her in a way that honors her desire and ability to provide for her family.
As a good steward using her resources wisely, and as a recipient of “Ara Kwa” (God’s grace), Regina is investing in her family’s future. And with other woman like Regina in her microfinance group guarding her back, you can believe Regina’s future is promising.
Be sure to read this month’s related letter from Douglas Mann, President of IAS America: “A Word About: Adom Ara Kwa – By God’s Grace”
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