“I’m excited to make my future plans happen. I feel that our village is lucky to have the community loan fund. I love it. I believe that I am also able to make my dreams happen,” U Htut Lay opened happily, with hopeful eyes.
U Htut Lay is a 46-year-old married man living in Than Taung village in Pin Laung township, a hard-to-reach area north of Nay Pyi Taw. He lives with his wife and young daughter. He is a subsistence farmer whose income mainly comes from growing seasonal crops. Their annual income is around 500,000 kyats (~$385 USD).
After his village partnered with Shanta, a community fund was established that makes affordable loans accessible to village members. U Htut wanted to start a side business to increase his family’s income by selling snacks in the village that were not previously available in the village.
He borrowed 200,000 kyats (~$153 USD) from the village fund to start his business. He made an initial investment for a large bucket of rice crackers from a neighboring village about 50 miles away. After completing his daily field work, U Htat sold the rice crackers in his village as well as in other nearby townships creating a bustling entrepreneurial business for himself with an average 15,000 kyats (~$12 USD) daily profit. Within one year, he earned 1,000,000 kyats (~ $770 USD), almost double what he makes from farming!
“I’m not sure I would do this business if we don’t have such a village fund with low interest. I am planning to do further larger scale business in the future,” he said happily.
U Htut’s wife took over most of their daily farming chores as the cracker business flourished, adding to their previously meager income and family savings. This success stimulated their motivation and efforts, further increasing their savings. Within a year, U Htut paid back the principal money and purchased a buffalo and a cow.
Now, along with a thriving entrepreneurial business, he owns farm assets! U Htut aspires to expand his entrepreneurialism to cover different community needs, increasing his family’s income and hope for a better future.
“I will save more money. I will also buy home-used grinding machine so that my wife can do local snacks by herself and we can sell in our village and nearby villages. Cow and Buffalo will be sold out when they become adults. I will buy a local truck and I will do the transportation business to send the farm products of other farmers within and outside of the village to the trading areas at town. I will also do retail trade of the basic construction materials such as bricks, sand and gravel in the village using that truck. Of course, if I need money, I will borrow from our village fund” he opened about his plan.