She was eager to work hard and decided to start selling basic food items such as rice, sugar and tea. She carefully managed her profits which varied between 1,000 and 2,000 CFA a day ($2 to $4 USD) and continued to buy more merchandise which she then sold to her community.
Eventually, she paid the loan back entirely and bought two goats that had offspring that she sold for 25,000 CFA ($47 USD) each. She used the profits to buy the materials to build a small shop with her brother’s help. Since then, she has been using the shop to store and sell her merchandise.
Currently, her shop is stocked with food, including rice, oil, millet, condiments, spices, pasta, milk and candy. She averages 30,000 CFA ($57 USD) in profits a month, allowing her to help her family by occasionally providing them with rice or oil and financial support while continuing her business. When asked why she believes she has been so successful, Ramata said, “I worked really hard and was persistent. The Tostan classes helped me because I gained math and financial skills and learned how to read in my national language. I also don’t take giving out loans lightly. Even when someone takes a credit of 1,000 CFA ($2 USD) to buy something in the shop, I write his or her name in my notebook and don’t erase it until the loan has been reimbursed.” Having only gone to primary school (CE1), the literacy and math modules in the Community Empowerment Program (CEP) provided Ramata with additional skills that ultimately helped her succeed.
Ramata explains that participating in the CEP has also helped her learn how to resolve problems that arise. For example, she can manage the finances of any project she takes up and is confident that others will not be able to take advantage of her financially. “One day I went to the market to buy some candy for the shop,” Ramata said. “The vendor I usually buy candy from wasn’t there, so I went to another vendor who sells candy. He tried to sell me the candy at too high of a price, but because I knew how to complete the feasibility test, I told him that it was not at all feasible for me to buy the candy at that price when I had a certain price I was selling it for in the village. He was surprised to see that I had this knowledge of financial management.” She also reminds herself that while she is focused on the success of her shop, she can’t forget the other aspects of the program such as health, hygiene, and women’s rights.
Ramata said the biggest challenge for her business is “the seclusion of the village and the distance between the village and the markets.” Ramata travels 15 kilometers to acquire her merchandise.
Ramata hopes to continue the success she has had with her shop. This year, she also wants to buy a cow to make an additional profit. Her advice to others who are going to participate in the community development fund and take out a loan in the future is to “keep track of the price of the merchandise that you are buying and of who owes them money.” Ramata talks about how happy she is to have had the chance to participate in the community development fund. “Now, I can give advice to others on financial management, whether is it to my friends, family and even eventually my children.”