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Three female entrepreneurs who are investing in their communities

This International Women’s Day, we honor the God-given dreams, gifts, and leadership of women across the globe. We also recognize the numerous obstacles that many still face—from limited education to discrimination, social marginalization, or lack of access to financial sevices. At HOPE International, we are committed to empowering more women to provide for their families and communities and be renewed in their faith.  

These three remarkable female entrepreneurs have demonstrated incredible business savvy while giving back to their communities. Join us in celebrating their stories today!

Ermelinda Awo: investing in church outreach 

Ermelinda (left) with members of her church and the van they funded

Ermelinda Awo, a grandmother living in the Philippines, used to earn just $18 a month as a health worker. Before she joined a savings group with HOPE’s local microfinance partner, the Center for Community Transformation, Ermelinda and her husband had trouble saving and meeting basic needs for their son and three grandsons. 

When she joined a savings group in 2018, Ermelinda developed the discipline of saving every month. Soon after, she ventured into farming when a kind neighbor gave her a piece of land. The onions and corn she grew flourished. As her farming business grew and became her main source of income, Ermelinda was able to stop her underpaying role.  

Now with a steady source of income, she not only supports her grandchildren through school, but also volunteers regularly at her church, and—for the first time in years—regularly tithes. Her increased involvement has helped grow the church membership and expand its community outreaches. She and other neighbors also helped the church buy a van for evangelism and other community services. “Serving God makes me happy,” she says. “I pray that our church will grow more and that it would reach more lives for Christ.” 

Lony Kathebwe: crafting clothes for her community 

Lony in her workshop

When Lony Kathebwe lost her husband, providing for herself and her grandchild became much harder. “It was hard for me to find food to feed the family since I had no stable source of income previously,” she shares. Sometimes, she would have to send her teenage granddaughter to school in their Malawian community without food. 

After joining a savings group through her church in 2021, Lony used a loan from the group to start a grocery store selling sugar, salt, sweets, soap, children’s snacks, and more. With profits from her store, she bought fabric to supply her existing tailoring shop. Noticing that wedding dresses required a far, expensive drive for brides in her community, Lony started a third business renting out handmade wedding dresses! 

Now Lony is not only able to provide for her granddaughter’s needs—she also invests in the needs of her neighbors. When she noticed kids being turned away from school because they didn’t have money for uniforms, she stepped in. “Now, having been blessed, I felt I should give back to God by making school uniforms for needy kids in my community.” 

Fidela Lugo: rallying other women to work toward their dreams 

Fidela and her youngest son

Before Fidela borrowed loans from Diaconía, HOPE’s partner in Paraguay, it was hard to cover household expenses and send her three children to school. With a talent for cooking, she sold food out of her home to local carpentry workers and more. But as she sought to invest in her business through loans from her local bank, she encountered one closed door after another. 

In 2021, after discovering Diaconía online and launching a microfinance group with her neighbors, Fidela finally was able to access the capital she needed. Noticing her neighborhood didn’t have a nearby place to get a hot meal, she opened a burger and hot dog restaurant. Additionally, Fidela is transforming part of her establishment into a rental apartment to provide more housing in her neighborhood. Twice a week, she joins her fellow group members at a local fair to sell groceries and other goods. 

Now, Fidela invites other women in her neighborhood to join Diaconía and has started two other groups. “I invite my neighbors, my friends, even people I do not know, [to join a group],” she says. “We are moving forward with my group of women.”  

By investing in the dreams of women around the world, we can lay the foundation for more mothers, entrepreneurs, and farmers to work toward a brighter future. Your support will provide underserved women like Ermelinda, Lony, and Fidela with the resources and training they need to build flourishing businesses that support their families and communities.



As Christ’s followers responding to His great love, HOPE International seeks physical, social, spiritual, and personal restoration in places of brokenness. Through Christ-centered economic development, we empower men and women to strengthen their families, build their businesses, and unleash their dreams.

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