First Up: Jessy's Story
Jessy is one entrepreneurial woman.
A mother of 5 and grandmother of 6 children, she joined our program in 2012 with the very first group to complete our skills-training program. Jessy appeared to be shy and timid, but we now know her to be a woman of less words spoken because of the many thoughts she's constantly entertaining in her mind - she's brilliant.
After graduating with excellent sewing skills, Jessy hit the ground running with her business endeavors, despite the cultural hardship of having been left by her husband and enduring the loss of all of her siblings. Jessy applied for our first microloan cycle, was approved, and passed the difficult exam required to receive the microloan funds. With that money, she bought a sewing machine to begin her tailoring business.
Now, four years later, Jessy has greatly expanded her business to include brickmaking, renting out an addition she built on her home with business profits, and renting out a small salon and boutique that doubles as her retail space for her skirt and dress designs.
Jessy has diversified her business plan to ensure that she will always be able to turn a profit and further the success of her family. Jessy is looking for colleges for her youngest children, a rarity when most children do not complete secondary school. She purchased a new stove and fridge to introduce better foods into the family diet.
She is flourishing as a businesswoman, mother, grandmother, and staff member of Clothed in Hope. And is if that's not enough, Jessy even gave up a room in her home to a woman with HIV/AIDS who was rejected by everyone else in the community.
Jessy is now thriving, and makes sure others around her are too. Her success is her community's success, and we are so proud to know her.
Next Up: Maureen's Story
Maureen is a mother of 5 children whose ages range from 3 to 19 years old. She joined our program in September 2013, as part of our second group in our life-skills training program in the Ng'ombe Compound. Maureen lives in the compound, which is home to around 120,000 people living in 2 square miles.
Maureen has a smile that lights up the room. But that smile took a long time to show itself, due to the hardships Maureen carried into our classroom. She faced difficulties at home in her marriage, financial difficulties, and her family would often find themselves without enough food to eat.
Maureen was a quick learner, and she even brought a Jewelry Making skill to our ladies that she shared generously. She graduated, receiving her Diploma in September 2014, and what a happy day that was!
Maureen applied for our first round of microloans soon after. With the funds, she purchased chitenge fabric to make garments for customers nearby. Maureen learned from our classes, and chose to reinvest the profits from her business to see her businesses grow. With hard work and determination, Maureen saved up enough money to open 2 shops in the Ng'ombe Compound: a tailoring stand and a restaurant. These opened in February 2015, and offer customers custom outfits, rice, tea, and other goods.
It doesn't stop there. Maureen has just raised enough money to send her oldest son to university. He will begin his education in the next few months. Maureen even opened a bank account with a local bank to keep saving, depositing her profits, to see her business and family thrive.
For us at Clothed in Hope, this is the dream. We equip women with the skills they need to start and run a small business independent of us. While we love the products they design and make with us, we love even more that they are thriving on their own. Maureen took the skills, knowledge, and opportunity, and now has the pride and confidence of providing for her family and watching them thrive. She's doing it on her own - the best solution for Maureen's family, and for her entire community. This entrepreneur is unstoppable!
Emeli is a mother of 4, she's married, and she's the best grandmother. Emeli and Jessy are best friends, and they've lived within walking distance to each other's homes for the majority of their lives. Emeli has a house in the Ng'ombe Compound, where our Chikondi Community Center is located.
When Emeli shared her story with us, we were amazed to hear of the obstacles she's overcome, and the goals that she's met. A humble and quiet woman, Emeli kept these incredible stories to herself until she was ready for the world (YOU) to know what she's been up to.
Emeli joined our program as part of the very first class back in 2012. She doesn't know much English, but that didn't stop her from picking up the skill of sewing very quickly. We utilized translators for her to take her exams like the rest of the class. Emeli excelled at every opportunity. She graduated our program in March of 2014 with a Diploma in Sewing and Business.
And she applied for our first round of mircoloans in 2014. She was ready to apply the skills she learned, skills that people like YOU provided for her, and set her family on a new path - a path of success and joy. Emeli was already famous in her neighborhood for her fritters (fried dough balls), and sold out every morning by 8am. She capitalized on her customer base, and used her microloan money plus income from CiH products to build shops at the front of her property.
In front of her house, on a conveniently busy road, is a Grocery Shop and a Hair Salon that Emeli rents out for monthly income. And on the far end of the strip of shops is a Barber Shop/Computer Lab that Emeli has entrusted to her young son to equip him with business skills as he finishes secondary school.
Emeli still sews and sells the garments she makes. But she's also running successful side businesses as landlady, entrepreneur, chef, all while taking care of her growing family. We are inspired by Emeli's persistence and drive, coming out of the valley of hunger and poverty, and climbing the mountain to lift her family out of those hard spots. Emeli's ingenuity excites us all to see what's next for her, and we couldn't have even dreamed of all she's already been able to accomplish - all because she took the knowledge and skills given to her by donors just like you.