Rebuilding Livelihoods in Liberia

A woman in the interior town of Bong Mines  (Photo: UNICEF - Giacomo Pirozzi)
A woman in the interior town of Bong Mines

Martha lost her husband during the civil war that tore Liberia apart and left 75 percent of the population in extreme poverty. A mother of two, Martha did not have any formal training. She could not send her children to school as she was not able to pay their school fees.

Since Martha became a beneficiary of the UNDP Microfinance Initiative, her life has changed for the better. With support from the Japan Women in Development Fund and the Government of Denmark, UNDP is implementing this initiative in three counties in Liberia—providing funds to women cooperatives so they can offer members loans to help them start businesses. Women represent 80 percent of the informal sector in Liberia’s economy and are the principal targets of the Microfinance Initiative.

As a member of one of the cooperatives, Martha received a loan that she uses to buy palm oil that she then resells at the local market. With the income she earns, she is repaying her loan and caring for her family. Her children are back in school as she is now able to pay for their school fees, uniforms and books. She can also afford their medical bills. Martha is thinking about asking for a second loan from the cooperative to expand her business.

Masaneh Bayo, the manager of this initiative, visits Martha every three months along with many other beneficiaries to see how she is doing and the impact this programme is having. “I did not realize I was making a difference in her life,” he says. He hopes that, with additional funding, this project can be expanded to help more people in more counties in Liberia.