“I wanted to give my children a better life” –Mira’s story
Married at 14, and a mother of four before she was even 20, Mira Bibi seemed destined to live a life of poverty and hardship. That was before she heard about the Empower Youth for Project and turned her life around. Now known locally as the ‘Lady Farmer’, Mira is inspiring other women to follow her lead.
Mira, now 27, lives in the Rajshahi district of Bangladesh with her husband and four children. Mira was married off young due to her family’s poverty. Her husband was a day laborer, and with only one income the couple struggled to feed their growing family.
Mira recalls how powerless she felt: “I wanted to give my children a better life, but with a single income it just wasn’t possible. I wanted to work to help my family, but my husband didn’t support my decision. Our financial crisis led to an unhappy married life.”
Starting with a cow
Mira turned to her father for help. He couldn’t give her money, but instead he gave Mira a cow and advice on how to look after it. “I had no idea what I was supposed to do with a cow!” Mira laughs. “How can a cow help me financially? It was at around this time that I heard about the Empower Youth for Work project.” Mira put herself forward for the soft skills and entrepreneurship training, where she developed a business plan. Using the money from milk and a small bank loan, Mira leased an acre of land, where she started growing vegetables to sell at the local market.
Business went well, giving Mira the confidence to branch out. With a small loan from the Department of Youth Development and a grant from the EYW project, she bought 14 goats, 11 ducks and 20 hens. She learned how to make organic compost from her cow’s manure–selling some, and using the rest to enrich the soil on her vegetable plot. The Covid-19 pandemic brought many challenges: prices of livestock feed and vaccines tripled, and Mira had to sell three goats just to cover her losses. But loves her work and is determined to succeed.
“She is an inspiration to other women”
Having started with just one cow, Mira is now selling milk, eggs, vegetables, compost and livestock, and is known in her community as the ‘Lady Farmer’! Monthly profits are 85 euros, on average, and she is gradually paying off her loan. Through hard work and dedication, Mira has changed her life and inspired other women –including her two sisters –to take up their own businesses. Mira dreams of one day running a large, eco-friendly farm, where all the workers are women. Her husband, who initially opposed her working, has had a complete change of heart. He says: “I was completely lost, puzzled about how I could manage the cost of family with so little income. But Mira became the light of my life. She is an inspiration to another women. We are now one big happy family.”