A Life-Altering Journey to Health and Increased Wealth
Madam Adwoa Tawiah is a vegetable oil trader who has been operating in Bantama Market – the second largest market in Kumasi, Ghana – for the past three years. Responsible for a younger sibling and three children, Mme. Tawiah also cares for her aging mother, who lives in her hometown, some 35 miles away.
For nearly two years, Madam Tawiah had been managing all this while battling extreme fatigue, bodily pain and insomnia among other symptoms, when Women’s Health to Wealth (WHW) – a member of WomenStrong International’s Consortium dedicated to empowering women and girls to become agents of change – started our women’s health screening project in the Bantama Market. This screening project was designed as an entry point into a small loans scheme with the goal of enhancing the businesses and economic vitality of these impoverished market women.
When her screenings revealed hypertension and pre-diabetes, Mme. Tawiah was seen and put on a treatment plan by WHW’s attending physician. She now attends monthly check-ups and obtains her monthly medication free of charge from the Bantama Market Clinic, thanks to medical supplies procured through WHW partners AmeriCares and WomenStrong International (WSI). Mme. Tawiah is full of praise for the initiative, as she now is in better health and finally understands that her ailment was not due to any negative spiritual forces, as she had been led to believe.
But recovering her physical health and wellbeing were only the beginning: having been through the health screenings, Mme. Tawiah was now qualified to access WHW’s collateral-free small loans scheme under the Social Capital Credits (SoCCs) program.“SoCCs” offer impoverished women access to a financial “bartering” scheme that counters money-based poverty by enabling them to earn and spend from a community-developed menu of goods and services. And indeed, Mme. Tawiah has had to deal with serious business-related problems, in addition to her physical ones. Because of Ghana’s severe energy crisis, she told WHW, food vendors and caterers who relied on electricity to store their foodstuffs were purchasing less of her oil, since it would spoil, given the constant and protracted power outages. Moreover, her competitors were selling in unauthorized places, leaving her cut off from prospective customers and further damaging her business.
So together with four other pre-qualified colleagues, Madam Tawiah formed the “Nyame ne Hene” (“God is King”) savings group, through which she has obtained two successive loans of 500 GH ($150), which she used to enhance her inventory by purchasing an additional 20 gallons of oil. Although the loans have been helpful, Mme. Tawiah says she is looking forward to being able to take out a loan twice that size: now feeling healthy, with a few more assets and able to dream farther ahead, she intends to use the increased earnings and loans accessed through WHW’s Social Capital Credits program to help her children complete their education and to build her own home, over the years to come.