Marife Andales Samarita is a shining example of an entrepreneur who has turned a small, home-based business into a successful enterprise with the help of microfinance loans.
Marife lives in East Rizal, Philippines and she is the proud owner of TGS Merchandise, a custom clothes manufacturing enterprise that has been in business for over a decade. She is also the mother of two young professionals, with a third child still in college.
Born into a poor family, her parents could not afford to support her studies past secondary school but this did not dampen her drive to succeed. When she left school, she challenged the embedded patriarchal social stereotypes by becoming a tricycle driver and providing a school transport service in her community. In 2015, she learnt about Grameen Pilipinas (GPMI) and their microfinance loan offerings. At that time she was working in rag making but was struggling to make enough to support her family of five, with two children in university.
She was apprehensive of GPMI at the time – there were many microfinance institutions marketing their services in her area and she wasn’t sure which she could trust, but assurance from her friend convinced her to take the plunge and become a member. Marife became one of GPMI’s first member borrowers in Lupang Arenda, Taytay, Province of Rizal, starting with a loan of PHP 5,000 (AUD 136).
Now in November 2021, she has already completed 10 loan cycles, including 3 group loans. Her most recently completed loan was for PHP 50,000 (AUD 1,363) and all loans have been used to expand her business, upgrade machinery, and start new ventures. As well as growing her business, she has been able to save some money for her children’s education, medical expenses, or any other unexpected costs. The loans have enabled her to turn her informal rag making business into a custom clothing enterprise. She employs four seamstresses, who also rent space from her. According to Marife;
“Good seamstresses are hard to come by. They also easily get pirated in the area. To protect my investment, I thought of setting up rooms for rent for my staff, so they do not have to commute going to work and leave their children behind. They get free meals during work hours as part of the terms of employment. I think this set-up is mutually beneficial.”
Marife hopes to keep growing her business, employ more local women from her community, and inspire others to follow their dreams.