Women businesses get a boost from UNDP micro loans, training

Aug 22, 2014

‘Mapakalitha Molala is one of 25 beneficiaries of a UNDP micro loan programme. PHOTO: UNDP Lesotho / Mark S. Cogan

‘Mapakalitha Molala beams as she stands next to her custom made sign.

The Turning Heads Hair Salon is now turning profits, in part due to series of training programs aimed at building her entrepreneurial skills. Molala was one of 25 women who benefitted from business management skills and mentoring to maintain or establish their businesses through the Women Economic Empowerment Programme (WEEP), supported by UNDP, UNCTAD, and UNCDF.

For Molala, the results are real.

“The bookkeeping training was really important because I am now able to keep track of daily sales, and see whether I profit or not,” she said.

Molala said that she did some bookkeeping before, but not as detailed as was taught to her in the UNCTAD training courses.

“Before I didn’t know how profitable my business was, but now I am really able to see that I am doing very well,” Molala said.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, including Lesotho, women occupy just one in three jobs outside of agriculture. While women represent a large share of those employed, women earn less and have less employment security than men.

UNDP provided a capital grant to the Molilko Finance Trust, which in July awarded 17,000M (USD $1,600) to the first eight WEEP beneficiaries. The loans will be used to purchase working capital for their small businesses, which ranger from food processing, dressmaking, vegetable production, tailors—and of course—the Turning Heads Hair Salon.

Molala borrowed only 1,000M (USD $95), which she used to purchase shampoo, cortical crème relaxer, moisturizer, and a bit of blue paint to make her custom sign.

“I wasn’t sure I would be able to repay that much, so I only borrowed what I thought I could,” she said.

But her salon is doing well, and Molala has easily made her first payment.

“I’m able to repay the loan. I just wish I could have borrowed more money.”

The WEEP project benefited women in Berea district in Mapoteng and Ha Lekhafola communities. The programme supports women of child-bearing age through entrepreneurial skills and income-generation.