After marriage, Lola Jobirova moved to the capital city Dushanbe from the rural area of Varzob. She began working with her mother-in-law, who stitched and sold mattresses, in order to support her family and pay the school fees of her four children. As the cost of raw materials rose in Tajikistan, Lola needed to apply for a loan. She had had a bad experience with microfinance, but the increasing financial pressure from both the business and her family situation left her with little choice.
Introduced by a relative, Lola approached the First MicroFinance Bank Tajikistan in 2004 for a loan of TJS 6,000 (approx. $2,070). Over the next eight years, Lola secured 15 loans, some as large as TJS 400,000 ($80,000), as FMFB supported her in establishing and growing her own business. She used these loans to invest in importing raw materials, diversifying her products, purchasing eight new sewing machines, and moving the business to a bigger location. These investments were both driven by, and contributed to, an increasing demand of her services; she now receives orders from government institutions, schools, and large companies. In addition, with a FMFB loan in 2013 of TJS 168,000 ($35,000), Lola opened a convenience store, which her husband now runs.
Financially independent, co-working with her husband, and providing jobs for other women and family members, Lola managed to increase her profits from TJS 350-400 a day before her first loan, to TJS 1,500 today. As a mother, her children’s education has always been her main priority. Lola says that FMFB has enabled her to achieve financial security for herself and her family, and “fulfil her social obligations and gain recognition within the community.” Today, she and her husband have been able to provide for the weddings of their two daughters, moved from a small apartment they rented to their own two-storey house for their two sons, and saved up more than TJS 70,000 ($10,000) that can be drawn on in case of financial hardship, while also owning a business that continues to expand.
Lola praises FMFB for its transparency and guidance. She says that among the Bank’s most positives aspects is the fact that she knows “the date I need to repay my loan, and how to prepare for that.” Empowered by FMFB, Lola and her husband plan to finish the house they are constructing and transfer her factory operations to an even larger space. She also aims to achieve complete self-sustainability for her business, no longer needing loans.