Linda Nyarko was just thirteen years old when her father died, leaving her mother and six children behind. With so many brothers and sisters to feed, Linda decided to work in the local market as a porter to earn money for her family. She wanted to drop out of school but her mother insisted that she complete her education. With her mother’s encouragement as well as the support of her teachers who often provided her with food and money, Linda was able to attend vocational school where she learned the art of bread-making.
Upon completion of her training, Linda started baking bread in a single oven. She sold loaves by the side of the road and door-to-door. Her bread was delicious and she soon had a thriving business with many loyal customers. However, she needed extra funds to grow. Linda applied for loans with a number of banks but her application was rejected each time. Her life changed when she met a representative from Opportunity International. Linda was approved for a two-year loan. She invested in more ovens as well as a vehicle to help with bread deliveries. This has made all the difference, saving time and allowing Linda to reach more customers by expanding her business. She paid off the loan within a single year.
That was five years ago. Today Linda owns a chain of bakeries and employs 60 staff members. Her bread is well-known in Accra and she also makes cakes and biscuits which are sold in shops and markets. Linda owns her own home and her own car. She says “Since I met Opportunity, everything is perfect, everything is well.”
James Keller once said that a candle loses nothing in lighting another. Linda is the embodiment of this sentiment. Through hard work, determination and opportunity, Linda is lifting herself and her community out of poverty. She has created employment opportunities, enabling over 60 people to provide for their families. She also mentors apprentices – giving them an opportunity to learn a new trade and fulfil their potential. One of her apprentices has now started her own baking business. The impact continues, and this is only the beginning for Linda. In fact, she is just getting started! She wants to continue growing her business by opening up more bakeries across the city and helping even more people.
Linda’s passion for baking and her community is infectious and one cannot help but he inspired by her ambition. How do we know? Last week Linda visited the Opportunity Team here in Oxford to share her story with us. Thank you, Linda, for making the journey to meet and inspire our team. We cannot wait to see what the next five years hold for you, your business and your community.