Sitting among lush green plants of their mother’s greenhouse, sisters Anila (aged 23) and Valentina (aged 22) share some childhood memories.

They remember seeing their mother working endless hours so that they’d have enough to eat. They remember the cold winter nights when their mother would bring their two cows into the living room so that their family’s livelihood wasn’t jeopardized. And they remember how their lives transformed from basic survival to one with schooling, enough food and a warm home.

‘My mother was a great model for us. She showed us what can be achieved with hard work and determination,’ says Anila, who works in the greenhouse with her sister and mother Maria.


There’s a sense of gentle peace about Maria who says the loans she received from VisionFund to help start her agricultural business were a gift from God. 

In the early 1990s, soon after the fall of Communism in Albania, Maria moved her three daughters to Tale, a remote village in the northwest of the country. Jobs and opportunities for women were scarce and Maria’s husband had recently died.

After a decade of struggle and hardship, Maria saw an advertisement for people who needed small loans to kick start their business. With a first loan of US $1,400, Maria bought two dairy cows and sold milk to people in her local village.

'VisionFund loans were not only the best choice for me, they were the only choice,' says Maria.

Through her small business, Maria began to work her family out of poverty. With two further loans, she built a stable for her livestock and a greenhouse on her property.


Today, Maria works with her two daughters to harvest vegetables in her greenhouse and sell seedlings to village markets. Her third daughter, Donika, has recently married and now lives in Greece. Maria spends time in her newly built house surrounded by her three grandchildren. She achieved her vision; all her daughters finished school, and have the confidence and security to raise families of their own.

MARIA's Photos


Maria's Story