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Abaynesh Legesse prepares traditional injera for sale in her kitchen in Benben Village, Ethiopia. She has seen her restaurant business increase five-fold since taking out a $50 loan for ingredients. Photo by Sara A. Fajardo

Like most village entrepreneurs, Abaynesh, had no shortage of willing clients, what she lacked was capital to grow her business. Previously, Abaynesh could only afford to purchase enough teff, the main ingredient in injera, to prepare 20 injera a day for sale. Her earnings were just enough to keep the business afloat. All that changed when Abaynesh took out a $50 loan from her Gudina Tokuchuma (Unity is Development) SILC group and purchased a 160-pound sack of teff flour.

No access to money before SILC microfinance

SILC is a Catholic Relief Services approach to microfinance that teaches people financial literacy and shows them how to pool their money and how to make funds available in the form of small loans to group members. SILC was first introduced in Beben Village by CRS partner, Meki Catholic Secratariat with generous funding from the American people through the U.S. Agency for International Development's Food For Peace program. Abaynesh joined

the group in March of 2013 and immediately began saving $1-$2.50 a week. With 18 other SILC participants in her group the savings quickly added up and were made available as small loans to group members.

Customers enjoy injera and sauces in Abaynesh's restaurant. Previously, she could never produce enough food to meet the demand because she didn't have enough money to purchase ingredients in bulk. Photo by Sara A. Fajardo

w to take out loans… I am expanding my business because of SILC. I had no access to money before the program."

Understanding money empowers women

It's almost noon and Abaynesh's daughter Tarikua, 8, busies herself washing glasses and taking a wet rag to the vinyl tablecloths in restaurant's dining room. Music from the nearby market plays loudly as Tarkiua works. As the mother of four daughters, Abaynesh worries about their future. She was forced to marry young and abandon her studies. She wants more for her daughters. "I tell my daughters to get an education," says Abaynesh. "Women are vulnerable to forced marriage and early pregnancies. When you learn, you will change your thinking. You protect yourself with learning."

Category: Payday loans

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