“I had given up hope of surviving in this world with my two children,” said Bangladeshi mother Jotsna Begum.
She and her husband Farid initially had a happy marriage and were content with one son and one daughter. But then Farid became addicted to drugs. Soon their family had no income at all, and they struggled to put food on the table.
Jotsna did everything she could to help Farid overcome his drug problem, but nothing helped. With the family living in utter poverty, Jotsna began looking for work.
After searching for a year and a half, she became discouraged when no one wanted to hire her. Although she was overwhelmed by her circumstances, one day she realized it was up to her to help her family survive, and she had to do something.
One morning, she went to visit a friend from another village, whom she knew was also very poor, planning to share her problems with her. When she arrived, she was surprised.
Her friend, who had been in serious financial difficulty just a couple of years ago, was doing quite well. She learned that her friend had become involved in World Concern’s Rural Small Business Development Project, and with the help of a micro loan and business training, had started a small business of her own.
She suggested that Jotsna contact the World Concern office about starting a women’s group in her village. Soon, with the help of the staff, a new group of 20 members was formed in Jotsna’s village, with Jotsna as the first chairperson.
Jotsna obtained a loan of $75 through this new group, and started a business of selling saris door-to-door in her village. In the first month, she made a profit of $35. Her family was so happy!
She paid her first loan installment, and even had a little left over. Soon, her income began to increase every month. As she gained confidence, she began to dream again. Her children began attending school regularly, as she could afford to pay for their tuition.
Soon after repaying her first loan, she took a second loan of $150, which she invested in expanding her business. She kept selling saris door-to-door, but also involved her son in selling them in the local market as well. This tripled her income!
A third loan of $300 helped her expand her business by adding fabrics for skirts, blouses and shirts. Now she is planning to hire one or two women to deliver the clothes to different shops in the market.
Recently her son received an A+ on his Higher Secondary Certificate examination and has applied for admissions to an honors course. Her daughter is in the eighth grade.
Jotsna has high hopes of both of them getting Masters’ degrees. Jotsna said she is thankful to World Concern, and is happy to share her success story with anyone who comes to visit her.