By Bethany Scott, Marketing and Communications Volunteer
Becoming a Community Investor is an extraordinary way to make a personal and trans-formative investment to improve the lives of an individual and their family. This year we have witnessed a unique and critical way in which our Community Investors have supported their Village Entrepreneurs through a challenging period in their lives. We would like to take this opportunity to say a special thank you to everyone who has generously offered extra funds to be disbursed to our five Village Entrepreneurs affected by the fire.
On March 11 2014, a fire tore through the Suai Market in the Cova Lima district in Southwest Timor Leste. The fire, which took 2 hours to completely destroy the market despite the best efforts of 2 local fire brigades, resulted in over 300 retailers losing their stores and produce. Amongst the victims were five Village Entrepreneurs who run businesses with the support of their Community Investors to earn enough money to provide for their families. There were no injuries or fatalities from the event, however many vendors lost their stalls, their produce, and all cash held on the premises.
CUFA Australia, with the generous backing and donations of our Community Investors and supporters was able to advance one round of funding to our VEs in order to begin the rebuilding process. The Credit Union Outreach Program’s Project Coordinator Martinho Soares has been providing assistance to affected VEs by helping to reconstruct accounts lost in the fire. All affected VEs were provided access to training sessions where local CUFA representatives visited them in the aftermath of the fire to encourage and provide advice on how to begin rebuilding their stores and their lives. Amongst the village entrepreneurs affected, three operated small kiosks and two operated clothing stalls.
Olinda do Carmo is a 39 year old mother of six children. When she first found a Community Investor, she was able to extend her retail and clothing store and increased her income from $3 a day to over $15 a day. Olinda used her profits to send her children to school and to provide food and shelter for her family. Olinda also purchased several pigs and goats to have at home as a secondary income, in order to save money for her family’s future. Struggling with the cost of rebuilding, Olinda has been using the income from her goats and pigs to fund construction on a new market stall, and has received advance funding from her Community investor to kick start the process.
It is thanks to our Community Investors and supporter donations that our Village Entrepreneurs are able to begin rebuilding their businesses, and getting their lives back on track. In an area where economic development is slow, it has been of utmost important to get the local economy
back up and running as soon as possible for the benefit of individuals, as well as the greater community.
CUFA continues to look at additional ways to support Village Entrepreneurs affected by this event, if you would like to make a donation towards those who are rebuilding their lives, please call us on 1300 490 467 or click DONATE.