Business Owner and Grandma to Six Orphans

Ifgenia and her family on their farm

Business owner, farmer, grandmother to six children, and microfinance entrepreneur, Ifgenia has had her share of struggles.

Born in the 1950’s, Ifgenia went to school and had dreams of going to college and getting a business degree. She was discouraged from this by her family, dropped out of school and married young. In 2002 she was hit by a car. After 11 months in the hospital, Ifgenia hobbled out on crutches forbidding her to be able to do any sort of strenuous physical activity ever again.

Unfortunately, death of family is an all too often experience for Ifgenia. Her husband passed away of heart problems. Her son and two daughters also passed away leaving Ifgenia with five orphans to care for -- and she does so with love, faith, and provision.

Raphael (9 years old), Jackson (7 years old), Binati (6 years old), Tebwala (6 years old), and Ephraim (2 years old) depend on their grandmother for everything -- food, shelter, clothing, and the opportunity to gain an education. Ifgenia's life was a struggle with the burden of caring for five small children with a disability.

Ifgenia and her six grandchildren

A "headache" as she described it, having to find odd jobs to make money for a week at a time. Her cousin told her about VisionFund; that if she and some other women in her village were determined, they could get together and call the advisers of VisionFund who could help them.

Ifgenia received her first loan of 20,000 Kwacha ($500 USD) which she used to buy seeds, fertiliser, and tools to start her own farming business. Soon her business called for more. She repaid her first loan and drew a second one this time using the money to purchase a bike and a cow giving her milk to sell and a mode of transportation for a neighbor or one of her grandchildren to ride to the market for her. A third loan was later taken out and now Ifgenia also has a small number of piglets.

The money she has gained by being able to sell extra crops, milk, and pigs at the market is used to send her grandchildren to school -- a cost of approximately 15,000-135,000 Kwacha a year. I asked her what her dream is for her grandchildren.

She said, "My dream is that they are the best in their class, that they finish school because I never did." And what her dream for her business is as she is saving for a fourth VisionFund loan: "I hope to improve my business (so that I can) improve my house. There are many leaks and things to be fixed so that my grandchildren have a good home."