Afi and the ever-growing market stall

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Togo is a one of the smallest countries in West Africa, situated between Ghana and Benin. With 70% of the population working in the information sector and 55% living below the international poverty line ($1.90 per day), over 6 million Togolese don’t have access to traditional banking and loans.

IADES (Institution D’Aide Au Developpement Economique Et Social) is our Field Partner in Togo, based in the capital, Lomé. Almost a million people live in Lome, making it the most densely populated area of the country. IADES’s objective is to improve the lives of the poor, especially women, by providing these entrepreneurs with an opportunity to work their way out of poverty through micro-loans supported by business, financial and social training.

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Afi Dope Mimlikou is one such entrereneur. She’s 57, and she lives in Lomé with her husband and five children, aged between 16-30. Afi's husband was unemployed so the family's finances and future of their children was down to her. She ran a small stall selling food and charcoal at the market in town.

Afi wanted to buy more stock in bigger amounts to invest in her business but without any formal schooling she was unable to get a loan from a bank. When she got her first Deki loan, she invested it in buying rice, tomatoes and oil in larger quantities. Her stall was popular and she soon repaid her loan.

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Since receiving the initial loan Afi says her business income and her families quality of life has improved. Her two youngest children are in education, now that Afi can afford the school uniform and books needed.

She also makes about 30,000 XOF (£39) profit every month, enabling her to add to their savings. Since receiving support Afi has gone onto to access a second loan of £330 and has increased her business further. Afi has now been able to buy a plot of land and build a home for her family.

Training in progress in Lome, Togo

Training in progress in Lome, Togo

Afi says the training support she has received has allowed her to develop an innovative business, trading in a wide variety of goods, whilst also learning to manage her loan and keep thorough records. She has attended many healthcare workshops, the most recent focused on breast cancer prevention. With the support Afi has been given she now has a profitable business, giving her the opportunity needed to make a life without poverty a reality.

Her next goal? She says she’s going to buy a car for the family.

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