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Connexus : Issue 36
Now that Norberta Cabral is earning enough money for her children’s food and schooling, she dreams of one day being able to afford to send them to university. For Norberta, who runs a kiosk selling necessities in Bacau, the second largest city in East Timor, it’s a remarkable, and yet achievable, ambition. Most of the people in her community are subsistence farmers, growing crops such as rice and corn to feed their families. Almost half of the population is illiterate and almost two-thirds live on less than the equivalent of $US2 a day. Norberta and her family’s future started changing for the better when she joined her local credit union. In February last year, that led to her taking part in CUFA’s Village Entrepreneur Initiative (VEI), through which she has received financial support and training in budgeting and other business skills. She has worked hard to make her business a success and says she is very grateful for the support she has received from her Australian Community Investors, Stephen and Sally, who have pledged just over $1 a day for three years. Illiteracy is a challenge for Norberta, but she’s great with numbers when it comes to calculating profit-and-loss and the stock needs of her kiosk. In the more immediate future, she hopes to be able to fund the next step in her business plan: buying a small minibus for transporting stock, so she won’t have to rely on public transport as she expands her business to other parts of Bacau. VEI helps alleviate poverty by generating income, creating jobs, allowing children to go to school, enabling families to obtain healthcare, and empowering people to establish and run their own small businesses. It operates in Cambodia as well as East Timor. VEI has more than 500 village entrepreneurs with business plans at the ready. If you think you could become a Community Investor by pledging just $32 a month to help one of them start their life-changing journey, visit www. cufa.com.au and click on the VEI link. – Benjamin dos Santos Noronha is CUFA’s Timor Leste VEI project coordinator. New businesses bring hope Dreams can come true for $1 a day. By Benjamin dos Santos “...almost two-thirds live on less than the equivalent of $2 a day.” connexus www.abacus.org.au 62 COMMUNITY