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Hassan interviewed the first recipient of a business loan to an Open Doors Literacy Project student, formerly illiterate. She’s 35, the mother of nine children. For more on ODLP, see  StartSelection:0000000199 EndSelection:0000000578 http://www.global1.youth-leader.org/2012/06/hassan-saeed-100-day-literacy-programs-to-empower-pakistani-village-youth/

Q: How much was the loan?
A: The initial loan lent to me was Rs. 15000. I added Rs. 20,000 from my own that I borrowed from friend here and there. Also, I have an account with the shopkeeper and I return some money to him in monthly installments so I have got a very good business going on.

Q:  Business project?
A:  To sell blankets and raw cloth to people in the neighborhood on monthly installments.

Q:  What are your earnings?
A: I gave away 12 blankets to people on monthly installments. Over the months, I got returned Rs. 30,000 out of which I gave the installment to Microfinance project of Rs. 5000 and I gave Rs. 25000 to the shopkeeper. I still don’t have any profit that is specified for me. I will give another installment of Rs. 5000 to Microfinance project on 10th October.

Q: Any problems or difficulties?
A: The difficulty was to add more money to the business and start it. I added 20,000 of my own and now, I at least earn. I give away all my earnings in installments to either to shopkeeper or you. One day, when I’ll be done with all the loans, I’ll have all my earnings for me.

Q: What have you learned about owning a small business?
A: I learned about good cloth, raw cloth and bad cloth. Now, I understand the business, the nature of profit regarding how much I can invest and how much I can earn out of that. For instance, if I invest in a larger business, the margin of profit is more. My husband is very supportive. He understands that I am working for my children and for our livings. Everyone loves to have a little comfort in life, have good education for kids and that’s what we’ve been doing for our kids’ future.

Q: What would be your advice for someone starting out?
A: My advice for them would be to start a business according to your own finances. Don’t make waste via haste. Make sure you understand the business, the rates and margin of profit and what you’re doing. Don’t just invest blindly. Search in the market for the best prices and deals. Learn to develop trust.

Q: Did the group of 5 assist you?
A: So far, not really. I know what I’m doing and they’re waiting for their turn to come so they can start their business. Sometimes, when I am alone and I have to go to market to get cloth or blankets, I ask one of them to come along and they happily come with me. They’re getting the hang of the market too.

Q: How did you use your new literacy skills?
A: Oh they have been a magnificent help along the way. It’s such a major boast that I am doing my own finances now and do my math. I keep track of my spending and savings. I have no words to thank the project owners.

Q: Anything else you’d like to add?
A: I’d like to add that it’s great what you guys are doing. When I wake up in the morning, I don’t just sit idle and take care of my household work all day. Of course, I do that too, but I have a business to take care of. I am making good use of my time now. I go out, deal with different kind of people and learn from them. That makes me experienced. I want to use the opportunity to thank you all. Also, I want you guys to lend me more loan after this so I can extend my business and provide more smiles for my family.

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