Fatmata Koroma, from Pendembu in Kailahun district in eastern Sierra Leone has started her coconut jelly enterprise.
Selling coconuts from 8am until 6pm every day, she was already bringing additional income to her household. When in Plan Sierra Leone introduced the Village Savings and Loans Scheme (VSL) to offer savings and loans services to the community, Fatmata decided to benefit. She joined the local scheme, got a loan and bought more goods.
“I buy two dozen coconuts everyday to sell, making a profit of either Le5000 (US$1.15) orLe7000 (US$1.60) per day, the greater part of which I use to buy food and cook for my family,” explained Fatmata.
From the profit she makes, Fatmata contributes Le2000 (US$0.46) daily towards the Village Savings and Loans Scheme. The scheme in Pendembu has 50 members; each member deposits Le2000 (US$0.46), which after 50 days amounts to the sum of Le100,000 (US$25).
From the scheme money I used to buy provisions – I bought a small wooden table from which my eldest daughter sells packets of sugar, cartons of milk and eggs. Thanks to the sale of food products, I make a profit of Le20,000 a day (US$5) and from the coconut business about Le7000 (US$1.60), which gives me a profit of about Le27,000 (US$6) a day.
“With this sum I increased my contribution to the scheme to five different deposits, which I collect five times a year. This gives me up to Le500,000 (US$11) annually and I have received it twice – making a million Leones (US$250)!”
Now, Fatmata saves and manages her money. She set up a small scale business buying Gara African clothing, lending to interested women on a two months credit basis and making some profit. Now, Fatmata is benefiting not only from the coconut business, but from the others she has established thanks to the coconut trade.