International Women’s Day: School Fees Instead of High Interest Loans

Myanmar Daw Thein Thein Win

This year for International Women’s Day, we are sharing the story of Daw Thein Thein Win, a client of DAWN Microfinance from Thaketa Township in Myanmar. DAWN Microfinance has been a partner of Accion Microfinance since 2015, and the partnership was formed to offer financial services to a largely underserved population in Myanmar. Since then, financial services in Myanmar have evolved and technology has spread rapidly.

DAWN Microfinance works exclusively with women as clients, helping them to grow their businesses, increase their savings, and improve their lives. Here, in her own words, is Daw Thein Thein Win’s story.

“Tea is my favorite thing. I don’t know why, but I can’t go the whole day without having tea in the morning. I’ve been running tea shops since 1996, and I’ve been in this location for the last four years.

“My whole family helps run the business, and we all live and sleep in the back. My brother and his daughter live with us and help with the shop. We start working at 4 AM, then we are required to close the shop while the students are in school across the street, then we reopen in the afternoon and are open until 11 pm. I am tired every day.

“I use the loan from DAWN to buy milk in bulk from the wholesale market. Before DAWN, I had to borrow from the moneylenders at 10% per month. I still occasionally have to use the moneylenders, but much less now that I have money from DAWN. I’m much happier spending money on my children’s school fees and on more milk than on a high interest loan.

Everything I do is for my two children. Their school fees are 120,000 MMK per month (~$89). Their favorite subject is economics. I only went to school until 3rd grade, and I want my children to go to university and have careers. I don’t want them working in a tea shop their whole lives.”

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