Business in the Time of Ebola: the Case of Marie Deline

 In BTCA, News


As the World Health Organisation says the Ebola outbreak is unparalleled in modern times, and the World Bank declares that the West African economies could be shattered by the epidemic, this blog series looks at how Peace Child International’s Be the Change Academy participants in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia are seeing their lives and livelihoods profoundly affected. We need your support to assist these women and our staff on the ground – help us provide the Ebola prevention materials they need. Even the smallest amount will make a difference. Thank you.

Marie Deline’s husband lost six family members to Ebola. Because of this, he is scared to have her go out and sell. She has been staying home out of fear of Ebola.

Even during this horrible time, Marie is proud of herself because she is able to use the skills and knowledge she learned at the BTCA to provide for her family.

Marie’s husband is a schoolteacher, but as all schools have been shut down because of Ebola, he is not working. Marie is now the sole provider for her family. She spoke with pride about her empowerment and business skills. She told me that thanks to the money she earned from her business, she was able to finish building her family’s house. She built it on her own, telling her husband she didn’t even want him to pay $5 because she wanted to do it on her own. She said that before the BTCA training, she used to get money but never thought of investing it.

As she told me this story, I could see the self-confidence and pride in her face. She went on to tell me how respected she is in her community.

Many people have dreams to do what I am doing, but I feel so happy that I was one of the few who got a loan. I felt so proud. My husband was also proud and wants me to continue to higher education. He sees what I can do, encourages me to keep dreaming big and wants to help me with my business.

Marie could not buy petrol this month due to the government regulations on transportation – motorbikes are now only allowed one passenger, so transport is slow. They are also not traveling to her community anymore because it is too far and fewer people are in need of transport. The petrol Marie bought last month, which normally sells, is not completely gone yet. But another women opened up a larger petrol station next to hers, and many people have started going there. Because of this, Marie has decided to try starting a sand business. After all, she owns her own land and has sand to sell.

Marie explained that because of the classes, she knows when there is a market for her goods. The market for her petrol has become so small, she no longer feels like she has a viable business. She thought about starting the sand business, but explained that she learned from the BTCA training that before you can start a business, you have to know your customers, competitors and the market.

She conducted market research in her community to see if people would buy sand. She discovered that in the area where she lives, people are starting construction projects. During her market research, she met one man who is building a mission and agreed to buy sand from her. Several others expressed interest too, as they are starting to expand the area.

If I had not taken the class, I would not have got the idea about the sand business and to do market research to know if the business will work. I gained self-confidence and made a plan so that I don’t have to depend on my husband alone. I have an idea about business now and a sense of whether it will be successful.

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