Daw Phyu Phyu Aye, 30 years old and living in An Tar, Gangaw grows sesame seeds – you know the small beige coloured flat tear drops that westerners sprinkle on top of sausage rolls or the crusts of bread? Well for Daw Phyu Phyu Aye, the cost of borrowing funds from the local money lender in times of hardship is at an interest rate of 10% per month, an impossible price for a local villager living within the Magway region in Myanmar...in fact it’s half the usual market price. In 2013, Myanmar was the world’s largest producer of sesame seeds, but during times of extreme drought or heavy monsoonal rain, sesame seed crops wane and local farmers struggle to stay afloat financially.
The arrival and active presence of the PRICE (Poverty Reduction Initiative through Community Empowerment) project saw Daw Phyu Phyu Aye and his local SHG group able to borrow monetary loans with a low interest rate of 3% a month and a seasonal loan amounting to around $150 USD per household. Each month, Daw Phyu Phyu Aye’s SHG group called ‘Samuel’ are able to save 225,000 MMK each month and sell bags of sesame seeds at 30,000 MMK per sack. The Samuel group learned to work together to benefit each other financially and sustainably during the good and bad times, and as a result, confidence and independence amongst its members has been fostered. Daw Phyu Phyu Aye stated that, “ADRA broadened our minds through training in realising our potential and learning to depend on ourselves for our own development”. Independence manufactured free from external influence and control has been an important step in the sustainable growth of the Samuel group and numerous others like it.