In the spirit of Lydia, PEER Servants sponsors the Annual Lydia Award. It recognizes those micro-entrepreneurs having significant impact in their families and communities. Read the stories of this year’s three finalists below.
Through the voting of our Lydia Award Committee, the online voting, and the voting among those who attended our Virtual Lydia Celebration and Lydia Celebration Banquet, we selected Lydia from the Philippines as our 2023 Lydia Award recipient. Congratulations to all three Finalists!
Join us in thanking God for the transformation in the lives of these hardworking micro-entrepreneurs and, through them, the lives of many others.
Kadara left school early and married very young. She was not her Muslim husband’s only wife. He loaned her $40 to start a business as a fish seller; she traveled over 90 miles to buy the fish. Wanting to work closer to home, Kadara started a restaurant, but then a terrible accident kept her bedridden for two years. Her restaurant closed. Medical bills took all of her hard-earned savings and assets and Kadara felt totally forsaken.
CAFECC, PEER Servants’ Ugandan partner, provided small business training in Kadara’s community. Based on recommendations from community leaders, CAFECC “bent the rules a bit” to provide support to Kadara to start another business. She used her first loan of just over $50 to start a small grocery store selling basic supplies such as salt and cooking oil. Eventually, with help from CAFECC, she purchased land for a small farm. She employs two women on a full-time basis for the grocery store and three women for part-time work on the farm. The success of her businesses provides for all the basic needs of her family; in fact, some of her children now study at the college level.
Kadara is known throughout her community as a leader and is one of the top group leaders in CAFECC. She is extremely generous, contributing to community boreholes to ensure access to clean water, fundraising for the church and the mosque, and supporting funerals and her needy neighbors.
Kadara’s five-year vision is to be the leading supplier of produce in her area. She plans to cultivate more of her land, diversify her crops, and increase the number of employees. She hopes to buy a grinding machine and is seeking her own means of transportation to the farm, which is 18 miles away. A Muslim, Kadara attends largely Christian women’s and CAFECC fellowships, grateful for the prayer and encouragement. According to the CAFECC staff, “She is always happy to testify of God’s goodness upon her life since she joined CAFECC.”
Growing up in one of the most dangerous slums in Metro Manila, Lydia developed an industrious and creative approach to earning a living even as a child. As she aged, she developed strong business skills, but Lydia was still barely getting by. Then her marriage fell apart and her husband left her.
Lydia’s life started to change for the better when she took out her first micro-loan for just $36 with CCT, PEER Servants’ Filipino partner. She opened a chicken meat business that served the food needs of her neighbors. Over the next 18 years, Lydia qualified for larger CCT loans and grew her chicken meat business while opening a mini convenience store. When she observed the population of students in her neighborhood growing, she opened an internet café and printing business. Her most recent loan was for $4,500 to begin raising broiler chickens in her own backyard.
It hasn’t just been Lydia’s businesses that have been transformed. Through joining a CCT fellowship group, she studied God’s words in the Bible and grew in her intimacy with God. This transformed her character. She joined CCT’s Business Mentoring Program and learned to put God at the center of not only her personal life, but her business. She even reconciled with her husband and they now run the businesses hand-in-hand. Now Lydia is volunteering to collect and record payments for her CCT microfinance group and facilitate the weekly Bible studies. Her impact has even extended to the local government, where she volunteers to ensure provision of water and energy to her community.
Today, Lydia’s family is living with financial and spiritual stability and security. As she has been economically blessed, she has generously blessed others within her church and community. She has ambitions to open a clean water refilling station to serve the needs of her community. She also encourages her neighbors to serve the Lord faithfully. She often says: “Making God the center of the business is the only true key to success.”
Growing up in Sri Lanka, the country’s civil war surrounded Papitharan. She and her family were forced to leave their home. Years would pass before they were able to return to her village and resume her studies. No stranger to life’s challenges, Papitharan’s husband, an epileptic patient, became unable to continue his job. Needing to support her family, Papitharan turned to her knowledge of tailoring and a borrowed sewing machine to start making handbags. However, the profit she received was insufficient to cover her family’s expenses.
Fortunately, friends of Papitharan told her about micro-loans available from YGro-HEED, PEER Servants’ Sri Lankan partner. She used for initial $100 loan to purchase material for making handbags. She qualified for a second $160 loan to add variety to her products and doubled her profits. With the growing demand for her beautiful bags, she hired a young woman as her first employee.
Papitharan’s commitment to quality led to orders from schools for backpacks. YGro-HEED made her a loan of just under $1,000 and Papitharan employed two more young women. As she established ties to shops and schools in her town, her customer base exploded – from 100 to 700 while still working out of her home. Her goal now is to establish the business outside of the home, hire more young women, speed up the process with digital sewing machines, and have her own handbag/backpack factory.
Papitharan is now able to meet the needs of her family. Her son is receiving a quality education and she feeds the materially poor. She has created much-needed jobs for young women in a safe and flexible work environment. Working with YGro-HEED, the government, and other NGOs, she has trained 1,300 young women in tailoring. Her desire is to help these young women learn that hard work, partnering with organizations like YGro-HEED, and overcoming huge challenges can lead to self-sufficient families with much brighter days ahead.
Thank you for your prayers for and support of our Lydia Award finalists!