During the COVID-19 pandemic, our income decreased and was not stable. However, VFM continued to support us by providing us loans and offering flexible repayment and restructured our loan based on our situation.
Mar Mauk Yaw Phe (39) lives in Pyin Shey village in Sittwe Township, together with his wife Arr Me Nar (33) and their five young children. The family relies on Mar’s work as daily worker in a brick-making business, which pays him around 8,000 to 10,000 MMK (US$4-10) per day.
Mar struggled to support his family with this meager income from this seasonal work. It was especially tough for the family when brick business is off during rainy season. It was also difficult for him to find other casual jobs. Mar wanted to start his own business but he lacked capital. There were no formal financial services in their township and local lenders charged very high interest rates.
In 2018, VisionFund Myanmar (VFM) in partnership with the Livelihood and Food Security Trust Fund (LIFT) expanded its operations to Rakhine State to provide accessible and affordable financial services to vulnerable communities, including families from conflict affected areas and IDPs to help them create business opportunities. Mar was among the first clients of VFM under this program.
He used his first loan of 300,000 MMK to start a goat farming business. He bought two kids and from this, he raised six goats. He used his second loan of 600,000 MMK to open a grocery shop for his wife Arr Me Nar. She makes around 20,000-40,000 MMK (US$10-21) per day selling basic food items such as garlic, onions, chili, salt, and some snacks.
However, the shop’s sales was impacted during the pandemic as customer demand fell and the shortage of commodities increased. While most shops increased their prices, Arr Me Nar continued to sell at normal prices which let her build a good relationship and keep her customers.
“With my recent third loan of 800,000 MMK, I bought a motorcycle and turned it into a three-wheeled vehicle to transport people and goods. With this transportation service, I am able to earn an additional 5,000 to 15,000 MMK a day,” shares Mar.
"During the COVID-19 pandemic, our income decreased and was not stable. However, VFM continued to support us throughout this challenging time. VFM continued to provide loans and in fact, also offered a flexible repayment method and restructured our loan based on our situation. The financial services of VFM changed the life of our family. We now have our own businesses and my wife and I can provide for our family’s needs including our children’s education. With the health crisis ongoing, I am comforted that we have the means to cover health and medical costs if ever needed. For all of these, I’m so grateful to VFM,” shares Mar.
Mar plans to build a better house and raise more goats while Arr Me plans to expand her grocery shop in the future.
Mar is just one of over 14,100 clients in Rakhine State that VFM have served in the last three years.