“Although becoming blind has been a great loss, God has blessed me with a supportive wife and son, who believe in me and have helped me along each step of my journey”: Wael’s story of Clothing
Wael Qdeisat from Irbid is a prime example of someone who achieved success against all odds. Continued access to small loans and his hard work and perseverance is what allowed him to become a successful entrepreneur. The initiative of the EU, the BMZ, and the GIZ contributes to improving the availability of microcredit for hard-working small-business owners like Wael and improves poor Jordanians’ chances of financial and entrepreneurial success in life.
Inside a small compound for second-hand clothes in downtown Irbid is the home of Wael Qdeisat’s shop for children’s clothing. Dressed in a crisp yellow shirt, hair gelled back with artful precision, 44-year-old Wael balances himself on top of a stool as he carefully arranges the colourful outfits and ruffled dresses hanging from the ceiling of his shop.
“Most of the customers that come to my shop can’t tell that I am blind. I’ve been selling clothes since I was 18 years old and a student in university. By now, I have developed a talent for understanding what my customers are looking for.
Also, it helps that I have a good memory of children’s sizes.” A microfinance client since 2014, Wael lost his eyesight permanently in 2005 due to a hereditary genetic condition. “But I did not give up. I refused to be a victim of my circumstances,” says Wael Qdeisat. “I kept my business running, while also working as a computer teacher in the town’s school, and being a father to my 14-year-old son Amir. He goes to Rosary College, one of the best private schools in Irbid,” he says, proudly.
Wael started his business with a street stall in 1995. He was still a student in university when he used the income from selling clothes to fund his education and cover his living expenses for three years. He continued his business after graduating from university and had managed to save an amount of 6,000 JD by the year 2000. At around the same time, he started working as a computer teacher at a public school for a salary of 180 JD. Seeking to expand his street stall, he started renting out the shop he is now working in for 500 JD a year.
In the winter of 2006, Wael wanted to include leather jackets into his product line. After a friend had told him about another microfinance institution, and how he can apply for one of their microloans, Wael took out a loan of 1,500 JD to begin with and bought the leather jackets, all of which he consequently sold successfully. In order to speed up the growth of his business, however, Wael needed to make larger investments. Successfully repaying one loan after the other over multiple periods allowed him to steadily raise the amount of his microloans to 7,800 JD, becoming one of his lender’s most important clients in the Irbid region.
When Wael was approached by another microfinance company in 2014, he decided to switch microfinance companies to take out a loan of 5,000 JD, at more favourable conditions. With this loan, he was able to buy stock at a lower cost, which allowed him to increase his profits to 10,000 JD annually. In 2016, Wael took out a loan of 11,000 JD in order to expand his business further. It is currently worth 25,000 JD.
Wael says that his life improved significantly because of the opportunities that came with access to funding for his investments. Not only was he able to buy more merchandise and increase his income; the ever-increasing profits of his business also enabled him to buy a car, pay for his son’s private education, provide some small luxuries for his family home and even invest in a local enterprise.
“Although becoming blind has been a great loss, God has blessed me with a supportive wife and son, who believe in me and have helped me along each step of my journey. I know it’s difficult for them, and that I place a heavy burden on them at times because of my disability, but their unwavering love is what has helped me persevere against all odds.”
This article is one in a series of feature stories about the lives and ventures of microfinance clients in Jordan. They are produced under the programme “Promoting Microfinance in the MENA Region” / “Promoting Financial Inclusion through Improved Governance and Outreach of Microfinance in Jordan”. This programme is implemented by GIZ in cooperation with the Central Bank of Jordan, the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation, and the Development and Employment Fund as well as with funding by the European Union (EU) and by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The views expressed here can in no way be taken to reflect the official opinion of the EU or BMZ. For more information visit us at: microfinance-mena.org
Author: Natalie Al Shami
Co-interviewer: Ala’a Alhyari
Co-editors: Armin Satzger and Atilla Kaiser-Yuecel