Archives For women

“Before I was part of the savings group, I wasn’t smiling.”

Kerline Jean Louis’ small restaurant is located alongside the bustling highway in Haiti that connects her rural town of Jeanton II with the capital city of Port-au-Prince. The business is perfectly positioned to appeal to the hungry travelers riding the colorful taxis (known affectionately as tap taps), buses, and motorcycles passing by.

A true businesswoman, Kerline likes to adjust her menu according to customer preferences: “It’s really based on demand—some people like grits, some people like rice and beans,” she explains. But before joining a savings group last year, she didn’t have money to purchase the ingredients required to make her most popular dishes. Without reliable access to the necessary ingredients, her business position became precarious.

Then, Kerline’s landlord unexpectedly announced he’d be selling her home; if she wanted to stay there, she’d have to purchase it for the 25,000 gourdes ($388 USD) he was asking for it. As a widow and single mother of three, Kerline is the sole provider for her household. She already struggled to have enough to pay for food, school fees, and rent—there was no way she could afford to buy her home outright. Moving elsewhere offered challenges, too; her home is situated just across the street from her restaurant, and the thought of leaving a space that had been a source of comfort and stability following her husband’s death was difficult to consider.

Kerline and her children were facing the possibility of homelessness.

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By Sarah Ann Schultz, Marketing Communications Specialist

When Therese Mukabera received her first loan from Urwego Bank, HOPE’s microfinance institution in Rwanda, she decided to start a business burning bricks, weatherproofing them to withstand Rwanda’s heavy rains.

But as a woman attempting to enter a traditionally male profession, she found herself encountering roadblocks to formally starting her business. Day after day, Therese watched men around her receive the necessary permissions to form their enterprises. And day after day, she was passed over, hampered by the common belief that brick burning was men’s work.

Around the world, life is often harder for women than for their brothers, husbands, and sons. Women are less likely to be formally employed than men—and when they are, women are often paid less. Women shoulder greater responsibility for housework, food preparation, water collection, and childcare. Less than 20 percent of the world’s landowners are women. When natural disasters strike, more women die than men.

But here’s the good news: When women are empowered, things change.

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Approximately 70 percent of the clients served in the HOPE network are women. In honor of International Women’s Day, we celebrate the remarkable mothers, sisters, wives, daughters, and entrepreneurs making a powerful difference in their families and communities.

When Christie’s mother suddenly fell ill in the middle of the night, an ambulance ride to the hospital cost more than they could afford. And later, when Christie’s pregnant sister-in-law had delivery complications at home, no ambulance could’ve reached them in time. Yet both her mother and sister-in-law made it to the hospital in time because Christie is one of the few women in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo, who owns and drives a car. Having the resources to provide for her family’s needs, Christie says, is “a gift of God.”

A few year ago, owning a car was a distant dream. Christie used to struggle to turn even a small profit from her market stand selling fruit and vegetables. Bad weather and fluctuations in market prices often meant inconsistent income for her family. So when she joined HOPE Congo, she invested her first business loan in more stable products like rice and beans. With each loan cycle after that, Christie diversified her inventory, slowly transitioning to office supplies.


Today, her business is a bustling stationery shop, selling pens and notebooks to students and providing local businesses with copy and print services. With a steady income—enough to send her children to school and purchase a car—Christie has found a new entrepreneurial spirit, saying, “My business is a true stationery shop. … Today, I’m a business woman.”

As the shop has grown, so has Christie’s vision. Having bought two new computers and looking to rent a larger space, she hopes to start an internet café to cater to her existing customers. Beyond her new business ventures, Christie remains committed to her HOPE community bank, driving members to repayment meetings and suggesting new ways the group can grow together in solidarity. She especially appreciates the 20 minutes of each meeting spent in the Word: “The Word of God cultivates love among us. It solidifies the connections between group members.”

Seeing God’s blessing in her business and family, Christie knows where her strength comes from, saying, “It’s the Holy Spirit who equips.” And she is determined to use her God-given gifts, skills, loans, and even her car to provide for her family and bless her community. “We believe that God has given us these things to help us,” she says. “We have to show Him what we do with it.”

art-compDo you know a woman like Christie whose dreams and prayers have helped shape your life? Honor her courage and love with this FREE digital print download at!