In the spirit of Lydia, PEER Servants sponsors the Annual Lydia Award. It recognizes those micro-entrepreneurs having the greatest impact in their families and communities. Read the stories of this year’s three finalists below.
Through the voting of our Lydia Award Committee, online voting, and voting among those who attend our 30th Anniversary Lydia House/Virtual Celebrations, we selected our 2021 Lydia Award recipient. Congratulations to Atputhaseeli, a Sri Lankan Fish Net Retailer and Repairer. Her very inspiring story, and that of our other very deserving Finalists, is below.
Join us in thanking God for the transformation in the lives of these hardworking micro-entrepreneurs and, through them, the lives of many others.
Sometimes, the greatest pain is not knowing. This is what M.A.S. Atputhaseeli from Sri Lanka lives with. She and her fisherman husband lived a happy life with their five children, even after one of their sons was blinded due to illness. But then came the Sri Lankan civil war when one day her husband went out fishing, he did not return before curfew, and she has never seen him since.
Atputhaseeli and her children were forced to flee their village and lived for years as refugees, moving from place to place, getting handouts from relief agencies when they could get them, going hungry when they could not. Finally the civil war ended, and she and her family were able to return to their village, only to find all their property missing or destroyed.
To feed her family, Atputhaseeli worked as a day laborer and as a cook. Then one day she heard about YGro-HEED, PEER Servants’ partner in Sri Lanka. With a HEED micro-loan of just over $150, she was able to purchase fish nets and rent them out to her husband’s friends, taking part of their daily catch as payment. She quickly learned to repair nets as well, and was able to make extra income through this while also helping her fishing partners. She grew her business, faithfully repaid her micro-loans, qualified for larger micro-loans (she has received thousands of dollars), and has more than quadrupled her family income from what it used to be.
Now, thanks to her hard work and loans from HEED, Atputhaseeli’s children are all educated. Her blind son is now a college graduate and is able to provide for himself. Atputhaseeli is a role model in her community, working in the male-dominated fishing industry, contributing to the building of her church, and acting as a voice for others whose loved ones remain unaccounted for in the war.
Sometimes, like with the mustard seed, God blesses an entrepreneur’s business abundantly and beyond what they could ask or imagine. This is what happened to Delia Enriquez, a client of CCT, PEER Servants’ partner in the Philippines. Delia had a business selling breakfast in her neighborhood and she noticed that her clients all loved her suman, a rice-based Filipino delicacy. So she decided to open a business selling suman.
Delia’s suman business grew. She was able to provide for her children’s education. But at times she struggled with customers buying on credit and not repaying her, and then a fire destroyed much of her neighborhood. Delia considered closing the business and retiring, but her neighbors, many of whom worked for Delia, begged her to continue. She realized that her business was not just a source of income, but a ministry, a way to bless her employees and her neighbors. She kept going!
To grow her business, Delia needed loan capital, so she turned to CCT for a $200 micro-loan. CCT gave her not just a loan, but training on good business practices and advice on how to develop the business effectively. They helped Delia to diversify her products to include other delicacies that her customers would enjoy. As Delia’s business grew, the size of her loans grew – her current loan is over $5,000!
Now Delia employs 10 people full time and several part-time students, allowing them to provide for their families. She built a church in the neighborhood so that her neighbors could come and worship God. And with the help of her daughter, she has taken her business online, marketing especially to Filipino expatriates, longing for a little bit of home while locked down overseas. In this way, her business continues to be a blessing to many all over the world!
There are not many jobs that pay well in Moldova, so many residents take work in Russia or western Europe. Tudor Boboc was such a person, but he missed his beloved country and yearned to return home. He moved back to Moldova and used some money he made in Russia to buy three goats. He found that he had an aptitude for working with goats, and he enjoyed it.
Tudor’s business grew slowly. He wanted to add a greenhouse to his property, so he reached out to Invest Credit, PEER Servants’ partner in Moldova, to obtain a $300 micro-loan. Tudor quickly realized he could count on Invest Credit to partner with him in expanding his business efficiently and effectively. Through this partnership, he was able to eventually borrow thousands of dollars and buy more goats, add pigs and sheep, and build out his farm to support these new purchases.
Now Tudor has 150 goats and many other livestock; he knows them all by name. The farm is a lot of work, so he has three employees helping him. Tudor’s goat meat and organic milk are highly sought after not only in his own region, but across Moldova. During the pandemic, Tudor started offering home delivery of his products to his customers. He dreams of building a hotel for agro-tourism.
Tudor is not content with a successful business; he knows he has been blessed to be a blessing to others. He is meeting the needs of his family and providing a university education to all four children, including a son staying put with a good business in Moldova. Tudor helped to build his church, often preaching there. He helps those in need in his community, including a family damaged by alcoholism. Now Tudor is a role model in his community, showing others that they, too, can make it in their beloved country of Moldova!