Within Mercy Corps' PROSPER program, the Savings and Credit Cooperative project brings much confidence to women in the Konso district of Ethiopia. Once a woman has saved a small amount of money, she is able to join the savings co-op and become eligible to apply for small business loans.
Kanessa Ayano, 24, owns a shoemaking business, and through her Mercy Corps facilitated business classes, she has learned how to increase her profit margins by creating an enhanced product which has created a stronger demand for her shoes. The original shoe was made entirely from tire rubber. Now, she is using discarded skins from animals after harvest to make more decorative sandals.
She has also expanded her inventory to include belts and bag straps, which are also sold at the market. Kanessa is happy to report that her village cannot keep up with the demand, so they are looking at employing more people from neighboring villages. Kanessa works five hours each day making shoes, and she is very proud of her village's ability to create something that many people love to wear.