Thida aged 43 years is a cobbler by trade, having learned her skills from her parents. With her experience, she is able to cover all aspects of the business from financial management to purchasing supplies and managing sales. She lives in Hlegu Township in Myanmar and is married with two daughters aged 18 and 15.

She employs six workers who each make 30-40 pairs of shoes a day working from 7am to 6pm. In total, she and her workers make 1,000 pairs of shoes each month consisting of seven different designs and most of her stock is sold to the military.

Women with cobblers making shoes

In order to fill her monthly quota and pay her employees, Thida spends 3.5m-4m Myanmar Kyat (US$2,190 – 2,502) each month and when she sells the shoes she makes a profit of 2m MK (US$1,251).

When she joined VisionFund, she owed 5m Myanmar Kyat ($3,127) to a loan shark. She used part of the VisionFund loan to pay off her debt and purchased her supplies with the remainder.

Even though Thida charges a slightly higher price than her competitors at 6,500 MK per pair versus her competitors cost of 5,500 MK, she is pleased to say, “I always get the order because my product is better. I focus on quality, so even though my competitors use the same materials, my quality is better so I am able to sell at a higher price and people buy my shoes.”

Women holding a pile of shoes

For every pair of shoes that Thida sells at 6,500 MK she makes 2,000 MK profit. Her credit officer advises on market conditions and when the value of the dollar increases she sells her shoes for more money at 6,700 MK per pair.

As well as selling to the military, Thida also sells her shoes in a shop in the market twice a week at 8,500 MK a pair.