"This shop belongs to me!"
As a female business owner, Anjali is part of the majority of Opportunity’s small loan recipients—over 95 percent are female. It’s a huge percentage, and one that stands out when you note the overall lack of opportunities for women in developing countries.
But why does Opportunity focus so much on women? There are many great reasons—here are three:
1) Opportunity is passionate about empowering women and involving them in financial decision making.
When women have no way to earn an income, they are dependent solely on the men in their lives to provide for them and prioritise the needs of the household. Giving a woman the chance to start her own small business helps her become part of the financial discussions of the household and gives her more authority and freedom—and makes her less dependent on her husband for her financial security.
2) Women make up the majority of small business owners in the countries where we work.
Mothers have fewer options for traditional employment as they are usually the primary caregivers for the children in the family, and have to supplement their husband’s income in any way they can—small loans can give them a head start. Women without husbands to support them need sustainable ways to support their children, and small businesses run from their homes allow them to do just that.
3) It makes great business sense.
Women are more likely to ensure their increased family income is spent on their children’s health and education, helping them and their families break the cycle of poverty. While both men and women are often responsible for their family’s wellbeing, studies show that women spend the majority of their earnings on their children, giving them a better head start and decreasing the likelihood that they will grow up in poverty themselves.
For Anjali, owning her own small business gave her independence that, as a woman in rural India, was hard to find elsewhere. For the past six years she has stocked and restocked her roadside stall, taking out and repaying Opportunity small loans to make improvements—a fridge for cold items, a printer to rent to customers—which has allowed her to expand her business.
The freedom of being her own boss is the ultimate reward for her hard work. And she’s passing on her skills: with her involvement in a local social welfare organisation and her persistence in leading a project to improve the local water supply, Anjali is making waves in her village in Nagpur, India.
“This shop belongs to me,” Anjali says. “I am the owner, and it feels good!”
We’re so proud of the incredible difference that women like Anjali are making in their families, their communities, and their countries. These women are paving the way for a poverty-free world, one day—and one female entrepreneur—at a time. Now that’s some serious girl power!