Paying back a debt

This post is part two in a four-part series. Read part one here.

For small business owners like Olufelo Kehinde, there’s a big difference between taking on a loan and receiving a handout.

When Olufelo gains access to loans, savings accounts, and other financial services, she also earns the dignity and pride that come with being able to use her own ability to change her circumstances. That’s something no amount of charity can give her.

That’s why Accion focuses on giving people the financial tools they need to improve their lives. And over 97% of our borrowers repay their loans in full.

“I pay promptly,” Olufelo said, describing the terms of her loan, when I visited her fabric shop. “I’m using it to grow my business…and if I don’t pay, they won’t give me another loan!”

Olufelo, like so many of Accion’s clients, understands that securing a working capital loan comes with responsibilities. A loan is also an opportunity to apply her management skills. For example, Olufelo keeps a detailed ledger — she called it her “book of analysis” — where she tallies revenue and expenses, including overhead costs. She described her monthly reconciliation processes to me, as well.

In a small shop in a very competitive market, there really isn’t room for a product that underperforms, and it was plain to see that Olufelo knew the score. She had a clear understanding of what worked and what didn’t.

Olufelo’s business acumen and commitment to making her payments didn’t surprise me. But what did surprise me was what she did to ensure that her business kept its competitive edge as it grew.

What she told me next impressed me more than anything I have ever seen in my seven years of working at Accion…but more on that later.

David Firth Bard, Manager, Resource Developement, Accion

This post is part two in a four-part series. Read part three, or go back and read part one.