August 9, 2017
By Janice Biehn
The mouth-watering scent of fresh baking wafts out of the living room of Elisa Mateus, as the Mozambican entrepreneur happily serves lunch to a hungry customer. The eight-table restaurant and catering business she runs out of her home is thriving and she is planning to expand it. She now employs five people.
But things weren’t always so happy. Mateus used to dream of having a small business, but interest rates in Mozambican banks are a prohibitive 34%. By contrast, a typical small business loan in Canada would charge about 6%. Mateus, like many low-income women in Mozambique, could not afford to apply for a bank loan.
But in 2014 a friend told her about CCM Pemba, a Cooperative of Credit of Women in Pemba, in Mozambique. When she opened her account, she became a member of the cooperative. After saving for three months, she was eligible for her first loan with an interest rate of 4%. The loan allowed her to refurbish a portion of her house and set up the restaurant and a catering business. It also allowed her to buy a good oven for her bakery part of the business. Her pastries are in high demand and that keeps her very busy.
The decision has changed her life, as well as her family’s. The income from her business is allowing her to pay her three children’s tuition, make repairs to her house and improve the quality of life of her family, which includes her orphaned nephews and nieces and her mother.
Mateus is very thankful for having an institution like CCM that allows low-income women to set up small business.
CCM Pemba has a membership of 600 low-income women. Every member has the right to vote at Annual General Meetings and propose suggestions on how to improve the services of the cooperative. Like Mateus, members use the loans to set up small businesses ranging from food stands, hairdressing salons, tailor shops and charcoal sales. All of the members say the loans have contributed greatly to improving their families’ lives by paying school tuitions and helping them stay healthy.