The Giordano Dell’Amore Foundation announced on November 8th, during the Annual Conference of the European Microfinance Network hold in Bucharest, the institution KosInvest has been awarded as winner of the fourth edition of the “Giordano Dell'Amore Microfinance Good Practices Europe Award”, realized in collaboration with the European Microfinance Network.
A loan gives Flurije’s family help to have a brighter future
Fluirje, a mother of five, and her husband have endured many challenges and difficulties. Their struggles really began when her husband was suddenly stricken with blindness and unable to continue to work. After being turned down multiple times for loans and assistance, Flurije discovered KosInvest and was able to finally start to make improvements for her and her family.
Flurije,56, and her family (her husband, five children and 80-year-old mother-in-law) live in the small village of Orahovac Kramoviku. The village has roughly 1,100 inhabitants from176 families. It has always been a small and poor village, mainly depending on agriculture but things had got much worse in the town during and after the war; homes were burned down and land was destroyed. It has taken a long time and lots of assistance from international organizations to help rebuild the economic status and individual homes and lives. Even though much effort has been put forth, it remains a poor neighbourhood that has a long way to go.
Flurije’s husband, Bedri, worked as a mathematics professor for 20 years. Suddenly, he started to lose his vision. The deterioration was gradual but noticeable. The family had started to seek help fromhospitals in Kosovo and in the former Yugoslavia, but his condition worsened untilhe was suddenly stricken with blindness. Once he lost his vision, he had to stop working and all of their income ended as well. Flurije was not working at the time as some ofher children were still very young, ranging an infant to 14 years old. The combined impact of his loss of sight and loss of income place a great financial stress on the family.
Fluije and her husband were desperate for income, for medical care and for treatment. They went to all the different clinics and hospitals in the area, and in neighbouring countries seeking assistance. Due to finances, they were not able to afford to go to other western countries and eventually accepted that he would not receive any further treatment or care. The small amount that they had been awarded through social assistance was barely enough to survive. Over time, they were forced to borrow and ask for money from family members, friends and even acquaintances. By this time, their spirits were low, their lives were shattered and they were in a state of despair.
Knowing that she had to start to take control of the finances and take back their lives, Flurije decided to start generating income for her family by selling milk and livestock, including calves. She had experience with farming as a child and her family had been involved in agriculture in the past. She knew that this was something she would be capable of doing while still caring for her husband and all of her children. She also realized that with such a business she could directly provide food and products for her family, saving more money while also earning an income.
Flurije set out to obtain the funds necessary to purchase her first livestock and begin her new future. However, Flurije was denied over and over again from several banks and microfinance institutions. None of these places were willing to assist her with a loan because of her husband’s blindness and the high risk it seemed she would be for repayment. When they their loan requests were denied, Bedri started to feel guilty because he was the reason they both had lost their income. His blindness had already made him feel useless and worthless, being denied the loans only intensified that feeling. Flurije spent many days crying and had lost all hope.
Then, she met a client of KosInvest who told her about the programme and inspired her to try again and apply for a loan. As their village is very small, a local store owner knew about their struggles and situation. When he started to receive bread from a new distributor who had mentioned that he was a client of KosInvest, the store owner suggested that they speak to the bread distributor. The client went back to the local KosInvest office and upon notification; the loan officer immediately went to visit Flurije and her family and helped them to complete the application for the loan.
Flurije received her first loan in 2007. It was a request for livestock in order to sell milk so that she could pay for the school fees for her children. After that first loan, she finally started to feel productive and have hope for her and family’s future. Bedri began to feel optimistic as well. Over the past few years, they received five loans which they have used to buy another cow and then continued to increase the size of their herd, selling the milk and other dairy products and generating income and food for theirfamily. With the help of these loans and business decisions, they were able to pay for their children’s education, their daily needs and save for their future.
Today, the picture of Flurije’s family life and future is quite different from the one in 2007. Now, her children are all grown and are between the ages of 20 and 30 years old. Three of her girls have graduated and have Masters’ degrees, two others are in college working towards graduation. Three of her children are working in various institutions of Kosovo. Bedri still is energetic and optimistic. All of this being the result of the faith that one company, KosInvest, had in a struggling and unyielding woman.
Flurije has emphasised that KosInvest is the only microfinance institution that trusted her enough to give her a loan. She continues by saying that she has never disappointed KI and has always paid on time. She says “I appreciate all KosInvest staff whotrusted me and the Rahovec office for their treatment of us. May God bless KosInvest and all of their employees.”