December 2019 brought unparalleled anxiety in the microfinance sector as it was projected that most of the Small to medium enterprises (SMEs) would face losses and fail to meet their monthly instalment payments leading to high Portfolio at risk for the Sector (PAR). Despite the many drawbacks that have been triggered by the pandemic, there are some businesses that have shown resilience and have thrived during these tentative times in the financial sector.
Rufunsa District is located 160 Kilometers east of Lusaka along the Great east road. Umino Community Loan Services has been in operation since August 2017, covering the area from Sinjela to Lukwipa in Rufunsa. The microfinance institution empowers the local community with business and farm loans to help improve their livelihood.
Matildah Tembo has been living in Rufunsa district for over 20 years and shares her experience on how the services from Umino have helped to grow her business despite the raging pandemic. She is one of the clients that attended the first financial literacy seminar and has continued to record milestones in her business. She narrates her story below:
“I am currently paying back a loan of K3,750 ($ 204.99) from Umino, the loan was used to order kapenta (dried sardines), beans, sugar, salt, rice and other food stuffs in bulk for re-packaging. Since the outbreak of the virus there has been a sharp increase in the profits because people are not travelling out of the town as frequent as they usually do to buy house hold groceries. I have taken advantage of the situation by making frequent orders from my suppliers.
After noticing an increase in the business profits, I decided to buy a small portion of land and construct a shop so that I can relocate my business from the open market. Financial services offered by Umino enabled me to cover 90% of the works from foundation level to roofing materials. Although this period has been very uncertain, my business has thrived with profits maximized. I am grateful to Umino for the support that they continue to offer to the community. ”