Ma Kyue Kyue Moe really wanted to start her own small business, but she and her husband Aung Myo Thu didn’t have much money to invest in it. She needed to do something with a small up-front investment and low cost. She decided to try recycling, because it’s good for the environment, and easy to start.
In a town like Mae Sot, there are many people trying to make a living in whatever way they can. Many people ride bicycles or push carts through town searching through trash cans to find recyclables to sell. Kyue Kyue didn’t really want to walk all over town looking for bottles. She has 2 children to take care of and it’s a lot of work to find the free bottles. She decided instead to be a bottle depot.
With the little bit of money she had she paid people for the bottles and other recyclables that they brought to her, and then brought all of them to a recycling center where they paid her more bottle than she had paid. One of the benefits for her community is how tidy it is compared to most migrant villages. People bring her their recyclables instead of leaving them all over the ground.
But often Kyue Kyue didn’t have enough cash on hand to invest in buying bottles from the bottle collectors. She had to borrow, just to keep her very small business going.
Then the Family Enterprise team came to her community and explained how a savings group works. Many people in Kyue Kyue’s community decided to save together. “Now, if I don’t have enough money for my business, I can use the savings group as a business line of credit. The rates are much better and it’s easier for me to pay it back.”
The group started their first savings cycle in May, before the COVID19 lockdowns became very severe. Many groups put their savings on hold, or shared out early, because they needed the money to survive the long period of unemployment that went with lockdown.
But not Kyue Kyue’s group. “We have a goal to finish this savings cycle no matter what! We agreed together that we would finish the cycle, without any excuses. This is not because we have a lot of money to save, but because we know that it is important. If we can complete this cycle we will be much better off than we were when we started to save. Soon, we will reach our goal!”
With her savings share out Ma Kyue Kyue plans to invest more in her business and to make it even bigger!
Ma Kyue Kyue was a hard working small business owner before she had access to a VSLA or secure savings structures, but she was barely making it, because she couldn’t borrow at a fair rate to grow her business, and she had no safe way to hold on to her money. Now she has both, and even though times are tough, she isn’t quitting.
Your support for Family Enterprise and savings groups literally helps to alleviate poverty and move these families’ quality of life up several steps. When you strengthen a family, their children’s future gets brighter.
Carrien is co-founder of The Charis Project, Family Education Curriculum Developer, and mom of 6.
You can get her free mini-course on Making Your Family More Resilient here.