Mathuso Mokoenya, a 32-year-old mother of four in Lesotho, struggled to provide for her family after her husband left in search of work in South Africa. Although she worked at a local hair salon in the nearby market, sometimes she went for months without getting paid. Mathuso struggled to feed, clothe and educate her children. Today, she is able to provide for her family and put away money for a rainy day with the help of a women’s savings group in her community.
In Lesotho, WORTH, Pact’s global economic empowerment program implemented with local partner The Society for Women and AIDS in Africa Lesotho (SWAALES), helps women take control of their livelihoods and end the cycle of poverty. The program brings women together in small groups to save collectively, improve fundamental literacy and numeracy skills, and borrow from one another to invest in their small businesses.
Through a WORTH loan, Mathuso bought hair dressing supplies and equipment to open her own hair salon. With the money she earns from her salon, Mathuso has been able to pay back the loan and provide for her household needs, from repairing the roof of her house to buying school uniforms and books for her children. She is also able to save and invest money every month in an emergency fund.
For Mathuso and her fellow group members, the WORTH program has brought a financial breakthrough in their lives.
“I am proud to have joined WORTH because through this membership, I have been able to access a loan which I could not have from the formal banks because I have never been in formal employment. I now have my own business and can manage to make my children happy,” said Mathuso.
The WORTH program in Lesotho focuses on helping caregivers of children who have been orphaned or left vulnerable due to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Mathuso’s community of Miro is located in one of the hardest hit districts in the country. Since August 2012, the program has helped improve the lives of 300 orphans and vulnerable children by supporting their primary caregivers.