Self-Help: Women's Micro-credit Loans in Nicaragua

 
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Adelaida making Empacando papitas fritas
Adelaida making Empacando papitas fritas

Adelaida sells freshly cooked food from her home along with other work on the side for extra income. Self-Help Staff interviewed her and her neighbor wrote out her story, as she is unabe to read or write. However, the words are those of Adelaida. Adelaida is a very entrepreneural worker who tracks her income and invests as much as she can.

In the community of Laurel Galan, a seven minute drive from the Self-Help office in Quinta Lidia, live 18 women who make up four groups in the Micro-Credit Program. One of these women, Adelaida, has been part of the Micro-Credit Program since November 2013. Her 17 year old son is in his thirdyear of high school and helps Adelaida with chores around the house, with her small business and he is also tutoring a local woman in reading and writing.

Adelaida just received her third loan last week. With the first loan, she was able to replace her old, small cooking pots with new, larger pots. She runs a small eatery on the side of the road and her specialty is Nacatamals, which she makes on the weekends, and also her chicken or beef soup. In the evenings, she sells tacos, enchiladas and French fries. Adelaida says her busiest days are Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, because on those days, the buses pass her eatery on the way to the market. She makes healthy and rich food in a clean environment, so many of the buses stop by, bringing customers.

For the past four months, Adelaida has been selling jewelry in the local communities, when she has extra time. If she doesn’t have the time, she sends a trusted family member or friend who then receives five percent of the sales. Earnings vary because when she travels to Costa Rica she receives a larger income due to exchange rate factors. She also delivers rice, oil and soap to local communities for extra income. With her earnings, Adelaida is improving her business and she saves any extra money in the community bank, a bank run by 42 women in Laurel Galan.

Adelaida is thankful and very motivated because the program has supported her through training classes, in which she has learned a variety of skills that she uses in her business. She is also thankful for the donations from Self-Help, such as the small papaya plant and the maracuya fruit plant, because now she can use the fruits to make juice. She would like to thank all the people who support the program, which for her, has been a huge help. She plans to continue with the program because she has not only received access to low cost loans, but she has improved her personal skills and knowledge. She is also thankful to the organization and donors who understand that Nicaragua is a country with great poverty, but a strong spirit and great hopes to improve.

Your support has enabled Adelaida, and other motivated women like her, to earn money to support their families. Thank you for your generosity.

Adelaida
Adelaida's son Hernandez
The jewelry Adelaida crafts and sells
The jewelry Adelaida crafts and sells
Letter from Adelaida
Letter from Adelaida

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Emma prepares enchiladas at the restaurant
Emma prepares enchiladas at the restaurant

In March 2015 Self-Help staff interviewed two business partners from the Laurel Galan community, Emma and Julia. The women later wrote their stories, in their own words, in an effort to share their hard work and express how they have benefitted from Self-Help's Micro-Credit Program.

Below we have shared the translated letters from Julia and Emma. We have also included a photo of Julia's original letter.

Your support has given women like Julie and Emma the confidence to start and grow their own businesses. Thank you for your donation.

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Emma's Letter

My name is Emma, I’m 33 years old and I live in the Laurel Galan community. Laurel Galan is about 3 km from the Self-Help office in Quinta Lidia. I’m a beneficiary in the Micro-Credit Program and I’ve been in the program since November 2013. I just received my third loan of $100USD. I invested the first loan in my business by buying tools and materials to open a bakery. The tools included a beater, 4 cookie cutters and some food coloring, all of which I was unable to afford before the loan. When I received my second loan, I teamed up with another woman in the program who lives nearby; we combined our loans and together we opened a small eatery. The majority of our customers are workers who stop by between 2:00pm and 9:00 or 10:00 at night. We make enchiladas, repochetas, fried chicken, grilled meat, fried dough, buñuelos, candies and chicken soup. With our loans, we bought materials that were of high priority in our new business, like a meat presser,a drip pan, two ladles and a draining spoon. Again, with our third loan, we purchased supplies to further grow our business. Specifically,we bought 2 pails,a grater,and 3 seats and a table.

I feel very content and thankful to be part of a program that has provided us the opportunity to follow our entrepreneurial spirits, and that continues to motivate us to better our small businesses. Through the program we’ve also been able to learn various skills such as business administration, how to make jams andwreaths, how to start and maintain a garden and many more.

I’m thankful to all the donors who support this program in our country and who understand that we are hardworking, entrepreneurial women with powerful wishes to better the lives of our families.

Thank you.

Emma

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Julia's Letter

My name is Julia and I’ve been a participant in the Micro-credit program since November 2013. I live in Laurel Galan, a community about 5 minutes from the Self-Help office in Quinta Lidia. I’ve received 3 loans now. With the first loan, I bought zinc for my home and, with the remaining money, I bought supplies for my business. With my business partner, Emma Mondragon, a local professor and friend, I sell enchiladas, tacos, fried dough, repocheta and meats off the grill. The second loan provided the money we needed to buy more supplies to improve and grow our business, like two large cooking pots. We used the third loan to buy 3 seats and a table. By combining our money, we are able to buy supplies and continue to expand our business. We feel very proud and motivated to be a part of this program because, not only do we receive loans, but we have learned so much in the associated training classes. Using the skills we learned in Self-Help trainings, we have been able to grow and maintain our home gardens, which have benefitted us greatly. We are also very thankful to all the donors who support us here in Nicaragua and who never forget that we work hard and have a great deal of appreciation. Thank you to Self-Help and all of its supporters.

Julia

Front table of their Fritanga (fast-food stop).
Front table of their Fritanga (fast-food stop).
Julia
Julia's letter
Front table of their Fritanga (fast-food stop).
Front table of their Fritanga (fast-food stop).

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Primativa
Primativa's health improved with proper medication

Primitiva is a 39 year old woman from the Las Azucenas community. She has two sons who help her with chores around the house. Her oldest son cuts oranges for a company called Naranjera and with the little that he makes, he supports the family and pays the home expenses. Primitiva suffers from a disease called psoriasis that is carried through the blood and slowly eats away at the skin, causing flesh wounds. By the end of last year, it got so bad that she was not able to work anymore on her bakery business and instead it was her son who took over the business and baked to afford the house.

Primativa came to the women’s health training on Nov. 27, 2014 and explained to SHI staff that according to the doctor her problem could be cured if she takes the proper medication, care and rest. The problem was that the medication she needed was too expensive for her to afford. I went with Self-Help’s micro-credit officer, Yolanda, to San Carlos to follow up on the medications in the doctors prescriptions and went to two different pharmacies and found that the medications would cost $500.

With Self-Help’s assistance, Primativa was able to receive a donation of $500, enabling her to purchase medicine to treat the disease. We recently visited Primativa at her home and she is getting better and better each day. Already, the wound, which was once extremely deep, is becoming significantly smaller. Primitiva feels very happy and is thankful to Self-Help and to those who have donated, because with all the support, she is healing and becoming stronger. She is excited to get back to work so she can earn profits to contribute to her family again.

Your donation has helped Primativa, and many women like her, improve their health and quality of life. Thank you for your generosity.

*Note: To protect Primativa's dignity and because the problem was severe and images may upset sensitive readers, the photos included only show Primativa after she had received medical care.

Primativa
Primativa's leg is healed & she's now back at work

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Maria & one of her children at a training session
Maria & one of her children at a training session

Maria is a 38 year old woman from the Cruz Verde community. She has three sons, one of which is ten-years-old and must help her read and write because she is unable to do so. Maria is very active in classes offered at the Self-Help training center and is always willing to share knowledge with other women in the micro-credit program.

Maria and Ana, another woman in the program, are two of the most motivated women in the group. For example, in December Maria and Ana worked together to make 12 piñatas in a very short time. Later that day, when the rest of the class returned from lunch, Maria and Ana were already busy making pasta de chiles (hot pepper sauce).

Because of their efficiency, the two women were able to sell much of what they made in the Municipal Market in San Carlos. With their income, they bought school supplies for their children to take to class.

This week, Maria and Ana will head to the market with 50 more containers of pasta de chile (hot pepper sauce) to sell, allowing them to earn 3,000 Cordobas (about $112) between the two women. At the market, they will also be selling jams from nancites, a common type of fruit found in Nicaragua, to strengthen their profit.

Your support has enabled Maria and Ana, and other motivated women like them, to earn money to support their families. Thank you for your generosity.

Two of Maria
Two of Maria's sons
Maria and the micro-credit group
Maria and the micro-credit group

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Women
Women's micro-credit group from Cruz Verde

The Self-Help International (SHI) micro-credit program recently has been focusing developing the professional skills of women and youth beneficiaries. These skills will provide meaningful incomes while enabling them to remain in their communities and homes to take care of their families. With new job skills in practice, beneficiaries will benefit with new job opportunities, better nutrition and learning how to save money.

Self-Help also provided courses in piñata design and funeral wreaths for All Souls’ Day so beneficiaries can increase the variety of their services and grow their businesses and income. In addition, SHI offered training courses for personal development including classes in self-esteem, gender, reproductive health, health and nutrition.

Self-Help’s newest micro-credit group (see photo above) is made up of nine women from the community of Empalme de Cruz Verde. Together, the women went through all the required training offered by Self-Help International before they could get their loans. Over a three-month period, the women took courses in self-esteem, business management, business planning, pickling vegetables, hot pepper sauces, jelly and marmalades. After training each woman got her first loan of $50. The women will use the funds to grow their small business some of which include making and selling tortillas, cosmetology, buying and selling grains, buying and selling products, growing vegetables and much more.

SHI is working in six different communities with 84 women beneficiaries. The beneficiaries are sharing their positive experiences with other women from their communities. News of Self-Help’s programs is traveling from community to community and more women are interested in SHI’s training and personal development skills.

Adelina is from Las Azucenas and is a tailor. She keeps herself busy with sewing projects for her community including school and cheerleading uniforms, skirts,  dresses, table cloth, bags, among other products. In the photo below, Adelina is displaying aprons she made for Self-Help International to be used by micro-credit beneficiaries that are baking, selling products in the street or in the local market. And while preparing food. 

Adelina said she thankful for the support and training the micro-credit program has provided to her.

“I am now earning money and working in my home. I provide everything in my house ranging from meals to paying monthly bills,” said Adelina. “Thank you very much for caring about women like us that are lack of opportunities in life.”

Your donation has helped Adelina and the women from Cruz Verde explore their talents and grow their businesses. Thank you for your generosity.

Adelina displays her aprons
Adelina displays her aprons

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Project Leader

Nora Tobin

Executive Director
Waverly, IA United States

Where is this project located?

Map of Self-Help: Women's Micro-credit Loans in Nicaragua