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AmorePacific lends a hand to single mothers

Feb 23,2017
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Im Eun-jung, owner of the 300th Heemang Store. [AmorePacific]
In 2004, AmorePacific opened its first Heemang Store to help single mothers start their own businesses with microloans. The project came out of the company’s Beautiful World Fund, established in 2003 to commemorate company founder Suh Sung-hwan’s contributions to women’s welfare. The stores have received accolades for their philanthropy and benefits to society.

Owners of the Heemang Stores, mostly single mothers, are selected by the company through an open recruitment process and receive a loan of up to 40 million won ($35,000) with 1 percent annual interest. The loan’s maturity is eight years, and the collected interest is used to fund other single mothers.

Beneficiaries of the Heemang Store program also receive legal, financial and family counseling, as well as a stipend for technical education. There are now 300 Heemang Stores around the country providing support for 843 single mothers and their families. Store owners have been able to maintain a monthly average income of 2.54 million won, and a loan repayment rate is 83 percent, helping single mothers across Korea realize their dreams.

By forming a supportive relationship with beneficiaries, the Heemang Store project encourages them to become fully independent. The support includes various educational programs after they open up shop and counseling to help navigate the difficulties of single motherhood. In May, AmorePacific made a contribution to the Beautiful World Fund that was able to provide up to 1.2 million won for health screening to each store owner.

The Heemang Store program strives to reach as many people in need as possible. There are no requirements on security, surety or credit rating. Last year, the scope of beneficiaries was expanded to people making 70 percent of the median income, which includes any household of two making less than 1.97 million won and households of three making less than 2.54 million won.

Most single mothers need loans for their housing and children’s educational expenses but have a hard time securing them. The Heemang Store program plans to support them by providing necessary funds to run their own business.

Any single mother raising children under 25 and with a specific business plan can apply for the program. This year, the two application periods are May 8 to June 9 and Aug. 7 to Sept. 8. Applicants can download the application form at www.beautifulfund.org.