Success Stories for Income Development

Afghanistan: Seamstress grows business, hires more women
With her husband unemployed and her children too young to work, Rahima struggled alone to support her family, making and selling women's and children's clothing in Dasht-e-Barchi, a village 10 kilometers west of Kabul. She owned a single sewing machine and worked long days sewing clothes that only earned her about $160 a month. The income was not enough to cover rent, medical costs, her children's education or other basic expenses.

Rahima testimonialRahima desperately needed additional capital to purchase more sewing machines and hire help to increase her production and her income. The loan she sought not only had to be affordable, but also compliant with Islamic Law, which offers very clear guidelines regarding the handling of money. A relative who was already a member of Kabul Islamic Investment and Finance Cooperative (IIFC), one of the 30 credit unions developed in Afghanistan by World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU), told Rahima of the IIFC's Shariah-compliant financial services and described the benefits of membership.

Rahima joined the IIFC in November 2010, eventually securing a Shariah-compliant loan for approximately $2,500. The loan enabled her to purchase several extra sewing machines and other essential business supplies, such as scissors, needles, cloth and thread, and hire two female employees. In a few months, her small income more than doubled to $400 a month, an amount that supported her family and enabled her to purchase a 20 percent share in another textile shop in Dasht-e-Barchi.

"Kabul IIFC has given me the help that changed my life completely," Rahima said. "I can now pay our medical expenses and send my children to school with complete confidence."

Haiti: New building, boat, equipment strengthen Haitian fishing cooperative  
On March 29, 2011, Global Communities (formerly CHF International) and the Fisherman's Cooperative of Petite-Anse celebrated completion of a livelihoods program in Cap Haitien that already is helping fishermen earn three times as much as they did before.

hatian fisherman and netsThe cooperative, better known by its French acronym, COPPA, worked with Global Communities to plan and implement a multifaceted eight-month program encompassing building construction, technical support and capacity building. A critical first step was construction of a new building. The resulting 560-square foot waterfront building was built and furnished by Global Communities. It is electrified with a 16-kilowatt diesel generator and eight 135-watt solar panels, a substantial advantage for any business in a country where most people do not have electricity.

The building houses an office, a benefit in Haiti where small businesses often are run from someone's home, backpack or telephone rather than a dedicated office, something that risks loss of important documents, property and other organizational resources. In addition, there’s a warehouse area for storing fishing equipment and 100 cubic feet of freezer space, a plus for storing the day’s catch for later distribution.  There’s also a classroom and conference space where COPPA can provide continuing education to its members and hold general meetings.

Right after the building was completed, Global Communities hosted a two-month, 10-seminar vocational training course there for current and prospective members of COPPA. During the training sessions, 100 fishermen received 250 hours of classroom instruction and 350 hours of practical instruction on a variety of subjects including maritime navigation, fisheries law and environmental protection, marine biology and small business management.

In addition to providing COPPA with a new building and advanced training, Global Communities also provided funding for the construction of a new 44-foot boat that cooperative members soon will begin using for group fishing trips. The new boat — several times larger than the typical rowboat or dugout canoe used by most Haitian fishermen — will allow COPPA fishermen to sail to deeper waters with less exploited fisheries, allow them to stay out sea longer, increase the volume of fish that can be stored aboard and permit a greater number of colleagues aboard to use more complicated fishing techniques than a simple line or a small net.

Finally, Global Communities provided COPPA with a wide variety of modern fishing equipment — a luxury in a country where the fishing industry is comprised primarily of single fishermen using a spear or shoddy net. With new supplies including basic sonar, GPS units and reams of nylon netting, COPPA members admit they are now better-equipped than even the government of Haiti.

For a report about Global Communities' work with COPPA in Cap Haitien, please go to: http://www.chfinternational.org/node/34804