'Since taking my Deki loan I have become respected in my family, I can have an opinion.'
Story told by Bryony Spooner

Thursday is a busy day in Babile’s market in Northern Ghana for Ayisha Mahamud. It is only a short walk from the border of Burkina Faso and hundreds of people have come into the market to buy and sell goods.  A huge variety of stock is sold here – cloth, fruit, rice, grains, vegetables and homewares. The market is divided into different areas. There is a lot of shouting and bartering for the best prices.

 

32 year old Ayisha has walked from a village about an hour away carrying a huge basket of dried fish. She is married with four children aged 18, 8, 4 and 3. She also cares for two adopted orphans aged 17 and 6, as well as looking after her elderly parents. She has a huge amount of responsibility for her age.

 

Her husband works as a driver but he struggles to obtain regular work and his income is unreliable. It is never enough to guarantee putting food on the table for so many mouths.

As Ayisha continues to trade she tells me her story. She has had one Deki loan so far and now is applying for a second.

 

She tells me that since getting her first Deki loan it has allowed her to expand her business. This has been crucial to how much profit she can make, since she can now buy stock in larger quantities.

 

To get the fish she sells at the market, she has to travel the length of the country, to the sea port Tarkoradi in the back of a truck. This is a bone shaking 12-13 hour journey each way and it means she must leave her six children with her mother-in-law for part of the week. ‘I must make the journey as there I can buy the fish at a better price, I do this every 2 to 3 months and then store the fish’.

She buys the fish in huge baskets and stores them with a neighbour. She then splits the fish into smaller baskets which she sells at the market. If she has a good week she now finds she can sell the fish on for a profit of 500-800 cedis (£90-£140).

 

Despite the long journey Ayisha insists she wouldn’t have it any other way. ‘I didn’t have the opportunity to go to school. I am so proud my children are now in school. I want them to have a better life. Things are good for me too. Since taking my Deki loan I have become respected in my family, I can have an opinion. If you aren’t respected, you have nothing’.


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