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Ebtesam Abdullah Saad, is 22 years old. She lives in Tihamah, 100 kilometres away from San’a in Yemen.

She has travelled to Cotonou in Benin to take part at the Youth conference - Agents of change to share her experience and to learn what other young people in different countries are doing and how they are overcoming their challenges and working to reach their aspirations.

She is an amazing young woman. Saad not only is a farmer, but also runs a successful grocery shop, is the chairperson of the savings groups, runs literacy and family planning classes for her community.

“I go proud of my various activities. I have a grocery store which I run together with my mother and my other siblings. I have two hectares farm land where I grow potatoes, tomatoes, sorghum and different types of vegetables”, explains Saad.

Saad’s farm land produces 15 tonnes of potatoes and 1.5 tonnes of tomatoes annually and she can count on an annual income of 600,000 Rials. Saad - a savvy farmer - knows that for her farm to have a good yield and be able to have a secure income, she needs to invest in seeds and fertilizers. “And this is precisely why I spend 60% of my income on inputs and to buy fuel for the generator which we use for irrigation”, says Saad.

Another feather in Saad’s hat is the savings group she chairs. “You know, it is impossible for women to have access to credit, so what we did, is to get organized and we set up our own savings group”, says a proud Saad.

“The group started in 2008 and today has 31 members - all women. So far we’ve given out 64 loans for a total of 845,000 Rials”.

This women’s savings group gives out loans ranging from 15,000 to 180,000 Rials and requires no guarantee or collateral. And guess what, to date, everyone has completely repaid their loans. Yet another example that women are credit worthy! One would hope that credit and financial institutions will finally open their doors to credit worthy women!

“I am looking forward to sharing my experience, challenges and aspirations with the other young people at this event these stories and show them that women can be self-sufficient and independent, that women are credit worthy, that women are as good, if not better entrepreneurs and business people”, remarks Saad.

Saad is learning English and aspires to have the local women’s savings group recognized at national level. She is a role model within her community and seeks to build the capacity of as many women as possible and empower them to take their lives in their hands.

“I hope that by the time I have my second child, at least 70% of the women in my community have an income generating activity and can stand on their feet”, says the four-month pregnant Saad.

And we can only keep our fingers crossed and wish Saad and the courageous ladies of her community the best of luck!