Magdalene Sackey was in a bind. The proprietor of a low-fee private school in Ghana with ambitions to expand capacity, she had acquired land for a new campus in Mataheko, a town in greater metropolitan Accra.

By April 2016, a foundation was in place and pillars were erected. However, to make the six classrooms on the ground floor of the planned two-story building usable, Magdalene needed additional funds for roofing work, plastering, painting and fittings.

She already had a loan outstanding with Sinapi Aba, a Ghanaian microfinance institution committed to social impact and serving the country’s economically disadvantaged communities. The loan officers admired her strong will and hands-on style. Magdalene completed a financial literacy and school-management training program administered by the bank and demonstrated an infectious enthusiasm and optimism in guiding her expansion project and engaging with contractors.

Asked by Sinapi Aba for an estimate of the cost to complete the ground floor of the project, she consulted her contractors. A supplemental loan in the exact amount of the estimate, 55,725 cedis (approximately $11,100 based off today’s exchange rates), was disbursed in April 2016 with a 36-month repayment period.

Magdalene Sackey, Proprietor of Phiga School
Magdalene Sackey, Proprietor of Phiga School

Within two weeks of reopening Phiga School in September of that year, Magdalene had 40 new students. She has since repaid the loans for the first phase and completed the second floor of classrooms, thanks to a new loan from Sinapi Aba. Her enrollment has grown to more than 400 students in creche (nursery school) through 9th grade. What was once the site of an auto repair shop is now a vibrant hub of learning, presided over by the indefatigable Magdalene — a hero in the eyes of the community.

Read more at IDPF's Medium page here.

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