Amisa and her four children, ages one, two, 12, and 15, were the recipients of Boise Valley Habitat for Humanity’s first playhouse through its Playhouse Program. Sponsored by Wells Fargo, Amisa’s playhouse will be used in her childcare business that she operates out of her home.
Amisa’s story, however, is unlike others in that she triumphed against insurmountable odds to reach the point she is at now.
Below is Amisa and her family’s story beginnings as told by Jenny Hay, child care business development project manager for Economic Opportunity (EO) by Jannus.
“Amisa and her family fled warfare in their native Democratic Republic of Congo when she was only seven years old. They then lived in a refugee camp in Tanzania for more than 20 years, where they coped with very limited resources such as food and healthcare. In 2016, Amisa and four generations of her family, including her two young sons, were finally resettled in the United States as refugees.
Amisa worked multiple jobs for her first two years in Idaho. In 2019, Amisa sought the support of Economic Opportunity (EO) by Jannus’s child care business development program (CCBD) to open a business and achieve more autonomy and personal development opportunities. With CCBD support, Amisa successfully opened and sustained a childcare business in her home, saved money, quit her second job, and was able to support her own children’s education by being more present at home and furthering her own early childhood education skills. Amisa also built her credit with an EO business loan, and eventually moved her family to a larger rental home, which she hopes to purchase from the owner in coming years. She recently expanded her child care license and enrolled more children, helping even more refugee families to successfully retain employment and help their young children’s development.”
Now, Amisa’s hard work is reflected in her child care business. With hopes of expansion, she models what the child care business development program (CCBD) hopes for all its candidates to achieve.
“Economic Opportunity (EO) by Jannus is proud to have supported Amisa’s economic mobility from surviving to thriving, and we celebrate her continued success!” said Jenny.
Since Economic Opportunity (EO) by Jannus’ origin in 2002, the program has provided microloans and business development support to serve more than 750 underserved individuals and families in the Treasure and Magic Valleys. With its mission to empower underserved Idahoans to realize economic mobility through individualized services and support, Amisa models the hopes of the child care business development program (CCBD).
“It was recognized in 2009 that a lot of people in our community who really struggle to find economic mobility with traditional mainstream employment for reasons like educational barriers, language barriers, lack of transportation, or child care limitations were able to succeed through starting an in home child care business,” said Jenny. “The process of starting a licensed childcare business is extensive and can be a deal-breaker for those who would most benefit from such a business. In response, we started the child care business development program (CCBD) to help people navigate both the cost and the processes of licensing and certification and getting their home set up.”
When asked why Amisa’s family was chosen as the playhouse recipients, Jenny said that she is extremely resourceful and is both deserving of the playhouse and extremely appreciative of it.
“We've already seen the children who were there at the time that Boise Valley Habitat for Humanity and Wells Fargo gifted the playhouse to them,” said Jenny. “The level of appreciation and utility for Amisa and also just the quality of the play environment, I knew that she could benefit from it and would also use it very enthusiastically and that the children she's caring for would use it very actively.”
Jenny hopes that more people know that Economic Opportunity (EO) by Jannus and its child care business development program (CCBD) is a comprehensive curriculum that doesn’t just look at borrowers through a credit score lender lens but instead through a holistic approach. Rather than boxing individuals in, CCBD allows individuals like Amisa to use the program as a springboard to achieve financial stability and self-efficiency over time.
“For example, many mainstream financial resources, such as a bank loan, are not accessible for individuals experiencing barriers to economic mobility. We help fill that gap by making lending decisions in a more holistic way,” said Jenny. “We look at a borrower and applicant’s whole situation, all of their circumstances, and are not just driven by a credit score or necessarily an income level. We are much more comprehensive in how we assess credit and the likelihood of being able to approve a loan.”
In addition to its programs, Economic Opportunity (EO) by Jannus provides unique volunteer opportunities that help families like Amisa’s achieve financial freedom. The majority of volunteers work in areas of providing subject matter expertise for EO’s financial and business classes, but the offerings expand to language interpreters, marketing and outreach, helpers for delivery and assembly of childcare supplies, and computer gurus.
“We have a unique group of volunteers, but we are always interested in engaging with more volunteers because we have some really rare opportunities,” said Jenny. “The majority of our volunteers are working with us in areas of providing subject matter expertise for our classes that we offer, including personal finance, business development, credit building, and child care, but volunteer opportunities expand into many other offerings.”
For families like Amisa’s, the child care business development program (CCBD) through Economic Opportunity (EO) by Jannus supports a path to financial stability. Through these programs, Amisa can build credit, own her own business, and eventually be stable enough to buy her own home.
“Amisa’s experience is just a really inspiring example of what Economic Opportunity (EO) by Jannus wants our services to look like and what we want our impact to be,” said Jenny.
Boise Valley Habitat for Humanity’s playhouse program, sponsored by Wells Fargo, represents the joy that comes through play. The Playhouse Program is a unique volunteer opportunity that gives groups and individuals a meaningful, creative and hands-on day of building playhouses that are then donated to local children or child-serving organizations. Groups or businesses interested in sponsoring the Playhouse Program may contact Boise Valley Habitat for Humanity. Through Amisa’s story, a connection between supporting community and child engagement can be found.