A Solomon story: Determination in the face of adversity

Today I bring you a story of perseverance from the remote valleys of northern Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands.

It was the morning after a night of heavy showers, and I made my way to meet Eddry, a client of South Pacific Business Development (SPBD), a Solomon Islands-based microfinance organization. Along the journey, the road quickly turned from gravel, to dirt to wet mud and it wasn’t long before the staff 4x4 was unable to go any further and Vanessa, an SPBD staff member and my reliable guide, stopped the car in what seemed a location with no close proximity to any form of civilization. We began the rest of the journey on foot, squelching our way through the muddy plains of the valley and failing in our efforts to land each step on the driest mud available.

Clothes under cover in a rural village east of central Guadalcanal.

As we entered the village, the effects of last night's showers were visible. The sago palms had done a decent job sheltering the clothes hanging beneath them. But water had risen almost all the way up the timber stilts upon which most of the homes in the village were built, blocking some of their entrances. This is the most clear demonstration of the effects of the changing climate here in the Solomons.

We were welcomed into the community by Eddry, who led us along a thin, raised, makeshift walkway into her home.

Eddry began explaining that prior to joining the SPBD, her husband was the sole income earner for their family of 6. Since taking her first loan in 2015, Eddry has been able to start a store that sells food items out of one of the rooms located in her home. Hers is the only food store in her village and many of her customers travel distances of over 2 km by foot from beyond the hilltop to purchase her goods.

She went on to say that women in her community, “do not feel welcomed by the commercial banks and are scared of even setting foot in their branches. The SPBD is good for me and the women in my community.”

Eddry’s home the day after heavy showers.

Eddry standing in the room of her home used as a convenience store.

She explained that flooding in the valley has been particularly damaging this year and recounted distressing recent memories of helplessly watching water flow in through holes in the roof of her home, rising through gaps in the flooring below. She talked of her plans to use the profits from her business and savings she has made since joining the SPBD to purchase new roofing and flooring materials to stop the water.

The roof of Eddry’s home, which she plans to replace with one made of tin.

As she told of her recent experiences and plans, her expression was one of hope. She had what seemed to me tireless perseverance. Despite the adversity she and her family have faced, she remained determined to change her circumstances and with assistance from SPBD was close to doing so.

South Pacific Business Development Solomon Islands are a Kiva Partner and one of the few microfinance organizations in the country that offers accessible loans, the ability to save, insurance and much needed training in financial literacy to women like Eddry, who are at the bottom of the income pyramid. They are working tirelessly to serve the most vulnerable and financially excluded individuals here in the Solomon Islands and our support is crucial to their sustainability.

$25 is all it takes to contribute to the sustainability of SPBD’s work in the Solomon's. Click here to view their currently fundraising loans and here to learn more about their crucial work!

About the author

Ahmed Syed

Ahmed was born and raised in London. He graduated with an honours degree in economics and management sciences from the University of Southampton and has spent the last four years working in the technology and venture capital sectors in both Europe and Asia. Most recently, he was a co-founding member of Rangewell, a prominent financial technology company, with the goal of improving access to finance for small and medium sized businesses in the UK. His experiences in underdeveloped countries and working in the financial sector have resulted in him wanting to promote financial inclusion to those without access to traditional financial services. He is excited to work with Kiva and use his skills to create impact on the ground and see first-hand the effects of finance in a developing context.