Woodia after Graduation

Woodia graduated from the CLM program late last year. We have written of her before. When she joined the program, she and her three children were living with her parents. She depended on them for almost everything. Her only income was money she made by selling a few snacks from a small table next to her mother’s shop. Her mother encouraged her to sell for herself even as she sat in the shop, selling for her mom.

Woodia asked for goats, but hasn’t really succeeded with them. She also asked for small commerce, and with it her success has been remarkable. She started with just 15,000 gourds’ worth of merchandise, about $115. But she took what she learned from her mother, and made the business grow. It is now worth over 125,000 gourds. She sells at the Savanèt market. She was selling from a small booth within the market, but she outgrew it. She now lays out her merchandise on a neighboring field, with other larger merchants.

Successful program members have always used the program to build dry, secure homes as well, but Woodia had to do something different. “Building on the land I had would have been too expensive.” The only plot she had available was what her parents could give her, and it was sleepy sloped. She would have had to pay a team to cut a flat space into it to build on, and she didn’t think it made any sense.

So she rented an apartment in downtown Savanèt instead. It costs 25,000 gourds for a year. It was expensive, but she thought it was important. “Now I am close to the market. I don’t have to walk back and forth to my mother’s house anymore.”

She has been saving 2,000 gourds each week in her savings club. The club’s rules allow members to buy just five shares each week, and the share purchase price is 200 gourds. So, to increase her ability to save, Woodia opened a second account. She buys five shares each week for each account.

When the cycle comes to a close, she knows exactly what she wants to do. She plans to buy a piece of land she can build a home on. She does not want to keep paying rent forever.

When asked how her mother, who first taught her business, feels about her success, Woodia smiles. “She’s really proud. And I am too. She knows that if she needs anything — food to make dinner or money to buy merchandise for her business — she can just send me word. I can take care of it.”