Investing in her Future
Just five months into the Trickle Up program, Ouédraogo Aguiratou, 40, has made strides both in expanding her livelihood activities and building her savings.
Ouédraogo’s inherent knack for business, combined with Trickle Up’s help, has provided stability to a previously tumultuous existence.
Ouédraogo was born in Côte d’Ivoire to a Burkinabé family. Her family had migrated from Burkina Faso to pursue economic opportunities. Though many families such as Ouédraogo’s settle in Côte d’Ivoire long-term, they often send their daughters back to their hometowns to marry. Ouédraogo was sent to Soubo in Burkina Faso at age 18 to be married, at the insistence of her uncles. She was not consulted or informed about the marriage, and she was disappointed as she had hoped to choose her own husband.
Twenty-two years later, Ouédraogo still remembers how her arrival in Burkina was fraught with uncertainty. She was brought into a house with 20 people, and slowly each person left until she was left alone with the man she was to wed.
While her family had owned plantations in Côte d’Ivoire and always had enough to make ends meet, Ouédraogo’s situation in Burkina Faso was quite different. Ouédraogo and her husband lived on what they earned from gold panning, an especially risky and unstable source of income. One can often go several days without any yield. Consequently, their income was insufficient to manage the needs of Ouédraogo’s six children.
In order to supplement her income, Ouédraogo began making galettes, or small biscuits, to sell to the community. However, she made just one batch at a time, only able to afford millet grain by the plateful. “When one does not have the means to invest larger amounts,” she noted to us, “the profits also stay minimal.” What’s more, she did not have a business strategy or experience in commercial management.
Through the help of Trickle Up’s grant and livelihood training, Ouédraogo was able to expand her business to much larger and efficient proportions.
With her seed capital, she purchased a sack of millet for $35 (19,000 CFA) and began to make biscuits to sell outside her community. One strategy she employed was selling her biscuits to a local school, as she envisioned children as a key group of consumers. With the profits, she was able to save weekly in her savings group and contribute to her family’s nutritional needs. She has also implemented the savings strategy in her home, keeping a portion of her profits in a small coffer.
Through her personal savings, Ouédraogo has diversified her livelihood activities and launched a small sugar business. She bought a sack of sugar for $51 (27,500 CFA) before the beginning of the winter season. As the only sugar-seller in Soubo, she made a profit of $14 (7,500 CFA). With her profits and savings, Ouédraogo has also been able to finance her children’s education and cultivate a field of peanuts. She continues to spend her mornings making biscuits, before beginning to work in the fields. Her husband is supportive of her efforts.
Ouédraogo stays true to business principles when it comes to selling her products. She sometimes is pressured by women who want to buy sugar on credit, but she explains, “I do not give credit to the same person twice.”
Ouédraogo says that with Trickle Up her life has changed in the areas of nutrition, health, and well-being. In addition to learning to save, she is now able to pay for clothing and shoes for her children.
Additionally, her savings group has collectively decided to make loans to its members after the winter season. Ever ambitious about new business activities, Ouédraogo plans to borrow $47 (25,000 CFA) to buy beans to resell in the community.
Ouédraogo hopes her enterprises will grow even further. She also wishes for her children’s success in school, which will assure they do not have to pursue to ensure they don’t have to pursue desperate livelihoods like gold panning. Ouédraogo thanks Trickle Up and our local partner ADEFAD for helping her make strides out of poverty.
Ouédraogo Aguiratou of Soubo, Yatenga, Burkina Faso
New homeowner, ambitious entrepreneur, baker