Kabh and Lopu: Entrepreneurs Thrive With Small Loans
Kabh and Lopu sell dried fish and vegetables — potatoes, onions and garlic — at their own market stalls in Monrovia, Liberia’s capitol. The fish are caught in the St. Paul River, which runs through the city. The potatoes are imported and so cost $2 a piece. In a place where people typically make $1 a day, it’s a hefty price.
One of the casualties of Liberia’s civil war was its agriculture. Farmers fled, and fields were tainted with bullets and blood. Liberians are starting to bury the past and coax the soil to nurture new life. But for now, a potato is a luxury good.
Still, a market exists for Kabh’s and Lopu’s wares. Kabh, as her family’s sole breadwinner, earns enough at market to put her two children, her
husband and herself through school. At night, Kabh studies business and administration.
Lopu’s success also enables her to send her six children to school. Already a high school graduate, she attends business training through Liberty Finance, ARC’s Liberian microcredit institution.
Liberty Finance offers small loans of as little as $70 to help Liberians start their own businesses and rebuild their economy. Nearly all of the 3,000 loan recipients are women. Kabh and Lopu are two of them. When they repay a loan, they qualify for a larger one. Lopu is on her fourth. Liberty Finance’s repayment rate is consistently above 95 percent — an outstanding performance.
During the war, Monrovia was more of a battlefield than a town. People hid out in buildings, but it would be a stretch to say anyone “lived” there. Kabh and Lopu could tell you how bad it was — they saw it all. But they prefer to focus on the future. They plan to grow their businesses and become wholesalers. With your support, they will get the resources and skills to do it.
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