Mary Niapau, FINCA Zambia

Mary Niapau, FINCA Zambia
Stitching Life Back Together

Following a difficult divorce, Mary Njapau fell into a deep depression. The mother of four knew she needed to take some time to regain her balance, so she left her children with her younger sister and went to live with her brother in the Lusaka township of Matero.

While in Lusaka, Mary partnered with a friend who owned a tailoring business in the local market. He taught Mary how to design and make clothes of all styles, and Mary became convinced that, in not much time at all, her dream of reuniting with her children would come to pass. Unfortunately for Mary, her partner received an offer to move to a larger and better located shop, so their partnership dissolved, however the man left the shop to Mary, and her dreams of reuniting her family still seemed imminent.

But life has a way of interfering with dreams, and Mary, who’d left her brother’s home because of some family issues, soon found that her small capital base wasn’t enough to afford to pay both housing and shop rental fees. Mary had no choice but to move into a smaller shop where rentals were cheaper.

Fortunately, Mary says, it was at that time that she passed by the FINCA office in Matero and spoke with a credit officer, who suggested that she help start a village bank. Mary and some other women who ran small shops in the market banded together, and Mary took out her first FINCA loan, which allowed her to purchase enough material to keep her tailoring business going. Very shortly thereafter, Mary was approached by a local school that needed a large order of uniforms filled. She gladly accepted the order, and made, what she calls, a substantial amount of money. This order made it possible for Mary to bring her children to live with her, which was like her dream finally coming true.

Mary’s business has continued to expand, and she now boasts of owning five sewing machines, one of which is electric. The added income has made it possible for Mary to provide a comfortable home for her children. And, always the dreamer, Mary is currently building a new shop where she’ll sell fabric.

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