By Amal Al-Yarisi, Yemen Times
Fatima Hassan, a maker of handicrafts from Lahj governorate, did not expect that a small loan from the Aden Foundation for Micro-finance would change her life for the better.
Hassan is the breadwinner for her seven family members. She does not have any qualifications other than a high school certificate and some experience in making handicrafts. She worked making handicrafts with simple tools and that’s why she had never significantly improved her skills.
Looking back, she said, “I faced many financial hardships and my financial situation was very difficult. Such circumstances helped stop my skills from improving.”
The financial hardships she went through did not stop her ambitions to expand and develop her profession. She decided to take a small loan of YR 25,000 (USD 120) to expand her modest project.
With that sum of money, Hassan bought some tools and opened a small center for producing handicrafts in her modest house. Initially, the handicrafts she produced were sold to neighbors and adjacent shops.
Hassan’s ambitions prompted her to participate in the Social Fund Exhibition for Development in Aden Mall, the biggest commercial mall in the city. The visitors of the exhibition admired her products and scrambled to buy them.
“Now my handicrafts are sold and available in many shops. They can be found in Sheik Othman, Crater, and the Khor Maksar areas of Aden,” she said.
Hassan makes several related incense handicraft products including Mushjub, (a clothes container with incense to produce a nice smell), juba (a basket for preserving fresh bread), brooms and hand fans.
Hassan’s success has encouraged and motivated her to open another kind of business, a beauty salon.
“I borrowed another YR 20,000 (USD 100) which I used to purchase make-up and hair-care products, and opened a modest beauty salon in my house,” she said.
Not only did Hassan’s small projects increase her income and improve her financial situation, but they also helped provide work opportunities for her family members.
“Every profit we make, we divide it between us where each one of us has a fixed share,” she said.
Hassan wants to take out a larger loan in order to establish a handicrafts shop in Aden city because she wants to expand and develop her handicrafts activities.
The Executive Manager for the Aden Foundation for Micro-finance, Rana Al-Salami, told the Yemen Times that, “Hassan struggled to develop her project because she is skillful and talented in making handicrafts.”
“In addition to the financial services, we further work as much as possible to train and qualify this segment of society. We offer some training courses in several areas such as sewing, embroidery, mobile maintenance, housekeeping, handicrafts, cooking, and making perfumes and incense,” she said.
“We also offer some courses in marketing and business administration,” Al-Salami continued.
Like many micro-financed projects, which have increased in Yemen over the last couple of years,the Aden Foundation helps people succeed and make their dreams come true. They provide small entrepreneurs with loans in an effort to encourage them, and foster and enhance a spirit of cooperation and solidarity among community members.
Micro-finance foundations further aim to raise poor income levels, and provide clients with sustainable micro-finance services.
Women are particularly encouraged to take loans as such micro-finance foundations seek to enable them to establish profitable, income-generating businesses.