"I came together with other women. We shared. We had concern for one another."

Facing financial difficulties and forced to borrow money at high interest rates, Serkalem was struggling to send her children to school and pay for daily necessities. She joined Siiqqee, and together alongside other women, has transformed her life for the better through a savings group.

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“Before I joined Siiqqee, I had five children I couldn’t raise or provide for. I had a very desperate life. I borrowed from individuals at very high interest rates; I’d borrow 100birr and pay 200birr in return. I had to borrow for school materials and medicine for my children. I wasn’t in the habit of saving so had to borrow money to survive. I didn’t know about family planning. I was not educated. This was the way I was living.

I heard about Siiqqee after meeting a woman called Wolala. She was going door-to-door inviting women to come form a group. I very hesitatingly went to the first meeting.

When I joined Siiqqee, it was wonderful. Siiqqee gave us training, and then we organised into groups to save every week. I met other women like me. I came together with other women. We shared; we had concern for one another. Our children got a better chance and we are really happy because our lives are being changed. We have a different way of life now and know how to manage our families and our businesses.

I consider myself privileged to be involved in this group. I couldn’t afford to educate my children. I couldn’t give them what they needed. Now, my children have an education. The women in Siiqqee came to know ourselves. I built confidence because of the cash in my pocket. Before I was dependent on my husband to provide for everything. He would decide to give it to me or not. If not, I would go to get a loan with double repayment. We are so are so much better off now.

We have come far: we now have a shop to sell our products. Our income will grow from selling and producing. We want to be known so that the media will come and capture our story and share it with other women. I wish for other women who are in low-paying jobs and living destitute lives to get the same chance that I got. I hope that Siiqqee expands.”