GGEM is a Sierra Leonean microfinance institution that Aurora Foundation has been supporting since 2014. GGEM stands for Grassroots Gender Empowerment Movement. We got to meet some of GGEM successful clients and now we share their stories.
Meet Miss Mariatu Sesay! (Second one from the left in the picture above with her family) A restaurant owner and a chef. Mariatu has been a client of GGEM for six years. She found out about GGEM because GGEM staff came to eat at her place on their way to work. They sat down to have breakfast and started chatting about life and all that entails, soon enough they both realized that Miss Mariato might be a potential client. That same day Mariato walked over to GGEM offices and got her first loan, as mentioned, six years ago.
Her first loan was 3,000 Leones (3 Million Old Leones), now she has increased the amount to 5,500 Leones (5,5 Million Old Leones) per month. Mariatu has four kids, aged 7,10,18 and 20 and she can now provide for all of them, which she could not do before.
Thanks to GGEM she can run her business and sustain her life with calmness. Every day her restaurant is filled with people, mostly regulars, and her food is in great demand. Amongst her clients are the GGEM staff whom she met on that fateful morning six years ago. Mariatu’s place is described as a safe space, a community space, run by family. Before she started running her business at this particular spot nothing was there, it served as a storage spot for random things. When asked how she would like to develop her business further, Mariatu responded by saying she would like to add Western dishes to the menu, which was interpreted as a need for training on different cuisines and food security. Hopefully training will be available soon!
We thank Mariatu for taking the time to speak with us and the GGEM staff for accompanying us to visit Mariatu as well as translating, we look forward to our next visit to Mariatu and to following her journey.