Souleymane TRAORÉ, Member of the Eglise Evangélique Mennonite du Burkina Faso, Samogohiri local church, is a carpenter-welder by training and by profession. He is married to one wife and father of three daughters.
After a stay in Ouagadougou where he learned the carpentry and welding trades, he returned to the village due to serious health problems, which had also led him to the Lord while he was still in Ouagadougou with his family.
Once in Samogohiri, he joined the Mennonite Church of Samogohiri while still suffering from his illness. He tells us his testimony following the acquisition of the "microloan" in 2013.
Souleymane in front of the church at Samogohiri
“After my illness, I was in a very difficult social situation. The reason is that because of my illness I couldn't work and I was obliged to depend on my larger family, who treated me badly despite the evidence of my situation. The members of my immediate family worked with them, but no one gave account of the profits of this work. No one thought to give us something like pocket money. Our sole benefit was limited to what we all received as meals in the family. For other needs, it was my wife who made an individual effort to respond. It happened that I had no sandals and she purchased some for me. At one point I ran out of clothes, and the local church supported me. The worst part was that my wife and my children were often obliged to go to the field with others and not to the Church on Sundays because we also depended on this shared work. Note that the head of the family was my younger brother, because my elder brother had already died while I was still in Ouagadougou with my family. In sum I will say that I have lived painful moments with this dependency. But, the Lord in his sovereignty, has given me a way out.
While I was still experiencing this difficult situation, the Evangelical Mennonite Church initiated the system of micro loans in 2013. I was interested and I sought to borrow the sum of 150,000 cfa francs ($300). Thinking about what to do with the loan, I swung between the grains trade and hardware. The Lord eventually convinced me to go with the idea of selling hardware. So when I received the loan, I entrusted myself to fellow church member brother Bala Sourabié, from whom I purchased a few items including paint. I made a small table to showcase my goods. Given my inexperience and the winter season, I was not able to repay the entire amount that first year and I explained that to the Loans Monitoring Committee. The following year, I took my courage in both hands and God helped me to repay it with double interest.
I've learned from this initial failure. With the rest of the items and with the support of Bala, I’ve climbed back up the hill. While I had begun with the small table, I ended up building a small house in which I placed shelves. Currently I am considering building another house because the one I have is too small to contain my merchandise. In addition, the 2016 round of microloans gave me additional purchasing power and reinforced my need for more space.
Since my hardware startup, I also returned to my carpentry and welding trades that go well with a hardware business.
Part of Souleymane’s hardware store
We can give thanks to the Lord, and also say thanks to the initiators and managers of the microloans program, which is a real springboard for the Evangelical Mennonite Church of Burkina Faso.
Note: EMC Project Builders has provided funding towards the loan initiative in Burkina Faso.