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The Chosen – Part Two

Bekelech assembling fuel efficient stoves in her workshop. Photo: © 2013 Jon Warren/World Vision

Bekelech assembling fuel efficient stoves in her workshop.
Photo: © 2013 Jon Warren/World Vision

Yesterday we introduced you to Lemma and Bekelech. Both were in defeat and struggling. And then they were chosen to participate in World Vision microloan program in Ethiopia. Read what happens next…

by Kari Costanza

Retooling their Lives
Lemma trained in carpentry. “Long before World Vision trained me, I had the wish to have furniture,” he says. “I would go into someone’s house, look around and think, ‘Wow. I would like to have that.’” Now Lemma had his chance. He and 25 other men took lessons in how to create furniture—beds, tables, chairs, hope chests, china closets—things most of them had never owned.

Meanwhile, Bekelech learned to make energy efficient stoves, a business with a secure client base. In this area alone, she could have 25,000 customers—all of whom cooked over open fires. Each stove reduces carbon emissions by 1.3 tons per year—enough to qualify for a 12 Euro ($15) carbon credit. The stoves also reduce firewood consumption and smoke, harmful to respiratory systems, especially children’s. They even made food taste better.

After the training, World Vision set Bekelech up with the materials she needed to start her stove business. She partnered with two other stove makers, both mothers of four. Lemma began his carpentry business, hiring several of the men he trained with.

Both Bekelech and Lemma took out their first micro loans from WISDOM. They were on their way.

Lemma in his workshop. Photo: © 2013 Jon Warren/World Vision

Lemma in his workshop.
Photo: © 2013 Jon Warren/World Vision

Micro in Ethiopia
Throughout Ethiopia there are stories like Lemma and Bekelech’s as World Vision works in tandem with WISDOM to change lives through microfinance. Today in Ethiopia, 64,560 borrowers are investing $12 million of loan money into businesses such as carpentry and stove making. The average loan size for these borrowers is $150. Some borrow as individuals—if they have collateral, and others borrow in groups, using group members as insurance that the loan will be paid back, which they are, at a rate of 98.6 percent.

“We are specialists,” says Worku Tsega, of the 60 loan officers who travel by motorbike, or even on foot, to serve these motivated entrepreneurs who would never get a loan from a bank. “We benefit from World Vision’s relationships. We go where World Vision has done groundbreaking. When we arrive, people are ready.”

Continue this story and read about the hope Lemma and Bekelech each have for today

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