August Featured Borrower from Ambalavao: Berthine

My name is Berthine Rasoanantenaina. I am 40 years old and I live with my husband and 5 children. I run a business weaving wild silk scarves. I earn my living through my business and reinvest most of my profits into the business because it is the only business that I know how to do. I have also received many trainings that have helped me learn how to weave. In general, this business is very profitable but just like all businesses, there are slow periods. Right now, it is a bit difficult because there are so few tourists in Madagascar because of the political crisis. Since tourists are my main clients, we’re going through a tough time but it should pass.

Since I am a mother, I also have a lot of obligations within the household aside from my weaving business. I’m the main person in charge of running the household and I do many of the chores. In general, though, it’s my daughters who are in charge of those chores. However, when they are in school, then I do most things in the house. To manage my time, I don’t weave every day except if I have a lot of orders. For example, during the high tourist season, I was weaving a lot. I would say that during three to six months of the year, I am working full time with my weaving. But during the other months, I spend a lot of time doing chores. Sometimes it can be difficult for a mother like me to manage both a business and running the household because the business takes up a lot of time. But it’s worth it. Like I said in the beginning, I chose this business because it is the only area where I am talented and have received training in. It’s also a business that brings in a lot more money than other areas.

When I started my business, I only had one loom but when I received the loan from Masomboly, I was able to buy another. That way, I can be making a few scarves at the same time. Sometimes my daughters even help me with them. I have really benefited from Masomboly because I have been able to sell my scarves in more places. However, my dream would be to open my own store and workshop to sell my scarves. Right now, my profits aren’t high enough for me to be able to do that. But once I can have my own store, I would be able to earn a lot more than I do now.

During all of my life, I have felt alone because I was an orphan. My mother died when I was only 1 year old, so I never knew her. My grandmother and my father raised my older brother and me. When I was 8, my grandmother passed away. Then my father remarried and left us all alone. My brother passed away soon after that and that’s when I realized that I really didn’t have anybody. My father passed away a year after my brother died. I was 14 then. I started working as a maid with a family here in Ambalavao but they did not treat me well and I left to work with another family. I lived with them until I was 19. I then got married because I felt so alone, but my husband mistreated me. We had three children together, but he died as well. I was single during five years and it was during that time that I learned how to weave. I then got remarried and had two more children. I don’t really think I have people I admire in my life, because I spent so much time worrying about my troubles and feeling alone and not getting to know other people.

All my life, I wished I could have changed my past because of all the suffering I went through with my close family members dying. But now, if I think about changing my life, I would like to earn more money so that I can reach my goals and give my children everything that I couldn’t have. My biggest dream is to have my very own store to sell my scarves, have my own house, and have everything I want, really. I believe that money brings power. Maybe I am wrong, but that is what I believe up until now.

Finally, what I would like the funders to know about me is that, despite the hardships in my life, I remain strong and confident and I know that one day I will reach my dream, especially because I am with Masomboly. This project gives me the chance to get where I want to go. I just need to continue working really hard. Thank you!