Case Study

Focus on Film: In Awa's Words – West Africa

Reminding microfinance practitioners of challenges faced by microentrepreneurs
Download 3 pages

This note is on a documentary film of an African woman microentrepreneur takes a look at the unique struggles of a woman microentrepreneur in Africa.

The film, "Awa: A Mother in West Africa":

  • Tells the story of Awa, a widow, who supports her six children through her street food business;
  • Provides a glimpse of the realities of contemporary life in urban Africa;
  • Takes the viewer through Awa's 16-hour workday and contains interview with Awa and her children;
  • Reveals Awa's resilience, will and spirit, and is a story of hope;
  • Looks at Awa's initial experimentation and struggles with various microbusinesses;
  • Explains why she ultimately invested in her street-side business.

The film describes:

  • The supplier-credit relationship that Awa developed with the shopkeeper who sold her rice;
  • The many constraints that Awa faced, such as:
    • Lack of familial and social support;
    • Fluctuations in market prices for inputs;
    • Lack of access to capital.

The author concludes by stating that the film:

  • Is a reminder of the interconnectedness of the personal and economic realms, and the complex constraints faced by microentrepreneurs, particularly women, in the developing world;
  • Invites the viewer to think about the social and economic impact of microfinance, as well as the design of appropriate microfinance products and microenterprise interventions;
  • Urges microfinance practitioners to consider how best they could improve their services to people like Awa.


About this Publication

By Curtis, A.