Mahassen Mehallel Ahmed Mahmoud, aged 37, lives in the small village of El Khodrab, in the Edfu region of the Aswan governorate in southern Egypt. While historically relevant, poverty has struck Edfu’s more remote villages and the desert climate poses many challenges to economic stability for its inhabitants. Against this backdrop, when her husband lost his job, Mahassen was at a loss as to how to provide for her four children.
When introduced to the First MicroFinance Foundation Egypt by one of its loan officers, Mahassen saw an opportunity to enhance her livelihood and support her family, and put forward an idea to set up a small business. Her plan was accepted and she received a loan of 2000 EGP ($360) in 2008. With this money, Mahassen bought lambs, which she raised and sold. Over time, with seven loans each larger then the one before, Mahassen steadily grew her business. She began producing and selling groceries and sewing clothes.
As her business became more successful, Mahassen took a loan of 20,000 EGP ($2555) and set up her own small farm and obtained two commercial boats used to facilitate river-crossing traffic. Today, she has four men working for her, operating the riverboats. Through her thriving business, Mahassen has been able to boost her monthly income to 5000 – 7000 EGP ($640 – 900) a month, from the 100 – 200 EGP ($18 – 36) that her father was providing to support her. In the meantime her husband also found a job with a local sugar factory.
Together they have managed to improve their quality of life, ensure their children’s needs are met, and move from a small clay house to a larger brick house. Her self-sufficiency and financial independence has given Mahassen a chance to secure her family, and contribute to her community by financially supporting several of her neighbours. As she finishes the interior design of her new house, Mahassen is now saving up for a car to support her business.
In the long run, Mahassen looks forward to expanding her farm, and achieve financial sustainability.