August Featured Borrower from Fort Dauphin: Lalao Roberthe

My name is Lalao Roberthe Razanamalala and  I am 37 years old. I am married and have 5 children. I have a small business selling metallic charcoal cooking stoves.

Tell us about your business: To give you an idea of how my business works, I first get sheets of rusted metal from a supplier that lives a few kilometers outside of the city. I collect these sheets every 2 days and hire someone to transport them to me. Every morning, I work on building the charcoal stove out of the sheet of metal and the minute I finish building a stove, I am usually able to sell it. Most of my clients are between 18 and 40 years old. Most of my clients are neighbors or people walking by on the street.

Every two days, I buy 3 sets of metal sheets worth 50,000 Ar. ($26) in total. Each set has about 5 metal sheets. One metal sheet can make about 4 stoves and I sell each stove for 4,000 Ar. ($2). On average, I sell about 10 stoves every day.

I find that my business did really well in June and July because it was the harvest season so everyone has a lot of money. But in January, after Christmas and the New Year’s celebrations, people don’t have very much money. It also becomes harder for me in September because it is the beginning of the school year.

Why did you decide to invest in this particular business ? What are some of the changes you made to your business because of the loan? What changes would you like to make in the future?

I chose to start this charcoal stove business because these are items that are used by most Malagasy families so lots of people need them and they bring in a lot of money. My parents had the same business when they were living, so they brought me up teaching me how to make these stoves. The loan has helped me expand this business. In the future, I would like to expand my business even more so that I can build a house made of concrete.

Describe your family life. For example,What is a typical day like in your household?

Since my youngest child is still very young, I get up early (4 o’clock) to take care of her. Then, my husband and I start our work on the stoves, then we sell them during the day. My other children are in charge of cooking, doing the laundry and shopping. 

What do you do on the week-ends?

Every Saturday, I go to church and every Sunday, I sell my stoves, as long as I don’t have a meeting with Agathe and Filonne, from project Masomboly. 

Are there people in your life who inspire you? Who? Why do they inspire you?

There is one person in my life who inspires me. Her name is Gisèle and she is my brother’s wife. I like her work ethic and her way of being.If you could change one thing in your life, what would it be ?If I could change one thing in my life, I would change my house into concrete.

What is a Malagasy phrase that inspires you?

Here is a Malagasy phrase that inspires me: « Aza miady ny anjaran’olo » which means « Don’t fight to get what belongs to others.”

What would be one thing that you would like the lenders in the United States to know about you?

The 50,000 Ar. ($26) loan is not sufficient to reach my goals. I would like to be able to borrow a lot more.