She is Capable: Boosting Business and Savings in Mozambique
July 10, 2019
TechnoServe’s Business Women Connect program has helped Mozambican women improve their businesses and increase access to savings. This impact can be seen in a new short film titled “She is Capable”.
“In the beginning, it was only a stand,” Sandra Chau reflects, a slight smile flitting across her face as she compares her small grocery store now to what it was just a few years ago.
Sandra opened the store in 2010 as a way to increase her income and ensure better living conditions for her family. By 2018, Mercearia Dona Sandra in Inhambane, Mozambique, was recording daily sales of $42 – average for businesses in the area.
In February 2018, Sandra also became an agent with Letshego Bank’s agency banking product LetsGo, which provides an accessible formal financial service suite that pays depositors between 10 to 15 percent interest per year in their current account. LetsGo, an innovative savings product that can be offered in communities by agents like Sandra, is particularly compelling for women because of low documentation requirements, better security, and higher accessibility.
Sandra Chau owns a small grocery shop called Mercearia Dona Sandra in Inhambane, Mozambique.
Around the same time, Sandra was selected to participate in Business Women Connect (BWC), a partnership between TechnoServe and the ExxonMobil Foundation that is focused on increasing the financial literacy and business skills of women agents of financial service products such as Letshego. Through the course, which includes in-class training and one-on-one coaching sessions with BWC advisors, businesswomen like Sandra learn that the success of a business does not depend solely on the volume of goods sold, but on good management, good planning – especially related to savings – and adoption of good practices.
"If I can save cash over a certain period, it will allow me to develop my business, as well as cover basic needs like medical expenses and my children’s school fees."
Since early 2018, BWC has trained over 200 businesswomen like Sandra on savings, financial literacy, and business skills to help them improve their own businesses and become more effective service providers and ambassadors of formal savings to thousands of other women in Mozambique. In 2019, the program will engage over 200 more businesswomen.
“If I can save cash over a certain period, it will allow me to develop my business, as well as cover basic needs like medical expenses and my children’s school fees. I still make monthly savings in the bank as I have been doing, but now also in my business account.”
In the BWC course, Sandra learned that the best way to save is to make a savings plan and divide goals into short, medium, or long-term targets. “Once I have my goals in mind,” she explains, “I write them down and keep them in sight as a reminder. I do that to feel motivated. I set savings targets along with a timeline to make it easier to save.” Today, the amount she saves to reinvest in her business has doubled from $79 to $158 per month.
“When people are concerned about something related to the LetsGo service, I'm the one recommended by those who know me. [The training] has helped me build a strong network.”
Learning about savings was important for Sandra’s grocery business, but it was also important for her as a financial service agent offering savings products in her community.
When she first started offering the LetsGo product, she faced many challenges in attracting and serving clients, because she did not know how the service would help the members of her community. “After the training, I feel more confident in explaining the benefits of having a LetsGo account, I have more control over products, and I am paying more attention to the customers.”
Sandra stands proudly in front of the business she built up from the beginning.
Today, Sandra feels good about her role as an agent. “I have a leadership role in my community,” she explains. “When people are concerned about something related to the LetsGo service, I am the one recommended by those who already know me. [The training] has helped me build a strong network.”
Sandra also put her new business skills to work in her grocery store. After beginning the course, Sandra realized her shop had very limited product offerings. To boost sales, she developed a strategy focused on increasing her store's product range to attract new customers. Soon, her daily sales increased from $42 to $60.
“I write [my goals] down and keep them in sight as a reminder. I do that to feel motivated."
With her additional income, Sandra has been able to build an extension to her store, which she rents out for events in the neighborhood. She also provides catering for the events. These two business ventures are now providing her with two additional streams of revenue. Ever the entrepreneur, Sandra still feels she has more work to do on her business and hopes to increase the number of products offered in the grocery shop and expand her catering business. She also plans to train her staff using the knowledge she gained from the BWC program.
“From now on, I will analyze everything – products, prices, and my competitors – before investing and I will always be attentive to market trends. At the business level, I will keep investing and keep my grocery store attractive to all types of clients.”
The BWC program, through its financial sector partners in Mozambique like Letshego, M-Pesa, and BancABC, is supporting businesswomen like Sandra. “She is Capable” is a powerful reminder of why it is so important to invest in women and how that investment has the potential to transform individual lives and entire communities.
Learn more about the Business Women Connect program.
View "She is Capable" in Portuguese.
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