27 Sep
  • By Isaac Msiska
  • Cause in

A Small Loan that Made a Big Difference

A good tailor is required to have the perfect tools and machines in order to work properly. That means the tailor’s needles, quilting machines and related equipment must always be in flawless condition. It is no secret that customers take their businesses elsewhere if a tailor fails to meet deadlines. Nothing destroys a tailoring shop faster than squeaky old machines with random breakdowns. Unreliable sewing machines are the perfect way to lose the trust of clients.

That is exactly what Kibebe Swedish group faced a year ago. The group, which was set up in 2013, comprises artisans from Dzaleka Refugee Camp who make fabric items for our Social Business Department. These products are sold both locally and on the international market. Revenue generated from the sales are used to sustain our programmes. From the services the artisans provide us, they earn proceeds which, among others, support their livelihoods.

The story starts with second-hand sewing machines the group owned some years ago. The machines were old and gradually, they started showing signs of fatigue and would frequently crash. This unpleasant turn of events eventually slowed down the group’s work.

“It was awful.” Explained Alice, the group’s leader. “We experienced serious delays and our job was terribly affected.” Alice mentioned that each time they fixed the sewing machines, the issue would resurface days later, worse than before. Fearing for their business, the group outsourced services from fellow tailors. This seemed to be a solution but now the problem was that hiring other tailors proved costly.

“You see, when we received payment, we had to deduct part of it and pay the extra tailors. Our profits suffered.” Clarified Alice. That was not all. Much of the labour the group does involves working with tough fabrics that require heavy duty machines. The equipment used by the hired tailors were built for soft fabric and soon the tailors started facing some glitches with their machines. Alice disclosed that at least two machines they hired, broke down. This did not please the tailors and they refused to take on any new work from the artisans. Alice and the group were in a fix.

That is when they decided to approach us for a loan from our Small Scale Business Loan Programme. They needed the loan to purchase a brand new machine and rescue their business which was slowly tumbling. In January this year, the group received the loan and without wasting time, they bought a brand new heavy duty sewing machine.

With the new machine, the artisans are back on their feet and their business has improved. The best news is that the machine has enhanced their efficiency in what Alice described as “double the amount than at first”.

“We can now work faster than before because this machine handles tough textiles easily.” Alice said with a proud smile. She added that the efficiency has enabled them to increase their workload, allowing the group to regain confidence from clients, especially their main customer, There is Hope. The newly bought machine has not only improved their work performance, it has also boosted their morale. As Alice put it, they now come to work, optimistic that every task on their schedule will be completed within its intended deadlines.

We established the small scale loan programme with the purpose of empowering individuals and groups to obtain capital they can use to launch small businesses. The Kibebe Swedish group is one of the demonstrations of how our loans are gearing people up by promoting their businesses.