Selfiana Seu is a farmer and a Village Health Post volunteer, living with her husband, Philipus Boimau and their three children in Nekmese hamlet in West Timor. Selfiana sells her vegetable harvest weekly in a nearby village market and she also has a small business selling about 20 liters of bottled gasoline each day from her home. “I can earn between $20 and $40 each month from both activities together, but that’s just enough cover our daily expenses,” she explains.
A very active Nekmese community member, Selfiana is also a Village Health Post Volunteer, which has given her the opportunity to join CWS-supported Timor Zero Hunger activities for some time. In September, when a new opportunity was introduced in Nekmese, she and other mothers formed a savings and loan group through a new Berdaya (empowerment) initiative made possible by an investment from CWS global partner, Week of Compassion. “We have 28 members and we agreed that each of us would commit $4 as an initial savings amount, and that we would start lending to members right away,” Selfiana explained one day.
Seeing an opportunity to expand her home-based selling from just gasoline, Selfiana was among the first to borrow from the group; and with just $15 she added inventory: snacks, coffee and cooking oil to start. “I made $4 in profit and paid back my loan at the agreed 2% interest, within a month!” A second $15 loan in November allowed Selfiana to add pumpkin, onion, Chinese cabbage and eggplant seeds to her growing inventory, and then Selfiana and other savings group members decided to start a communal garden where they will plant more vegetables, both to sell and eat with their families. “Although our group has only been together for a few months, I and others have been able to expand business and save too. I hope we will continue to grow and eventually get support from the local government for additional capital, or at least tools for our communal garden,” Selfiana opined.
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