Read the microcredit success story of Mayra Guervera!
A voodoo curse is yet one more challenge Adelante client Mayra Esperanza Guevera feels she has had to overcome in her struggle to build a better life. "My business was growing and growing and then about a year ago my clients simply stopped coming to my store. The rumor was that someone put a voodoo curse on my business." Hondurans aren't known to be superstitious but many, if not most, believe in black magic. Mayra herself isn't sure if her business was cursed, but she is convinced that because of the success she has achieved as an Adelante client a number of people are envious - and would not mind seeing her slip.
Fortunately, for the six months her business was slow she maintained her resolve and managed to pay back her ninth Adelante loan. Now Mayra boasts of an achievement few others can claim: "I no longer live in poverty!"
It's appropriate that Mayra lives in the rural village of El Esfuerzo which translates to "Effort". It took five hard years of grit and determination but she has achieved what we hope all our clients can achieve - going from living in a mud house to one of concrete. From a life when she couldn't afford junior high school for her daughter to a life when she can. From a life when she and her family lived from hand-to-mouth and the slightest emergency created a crisis to one of knowing she and her children have enough to eat. From a life of constant fear to one of hope.
It started with a $35 loan...
Mayra's relationship with Adelante began in 2001 with an initial loan of $35. She had never had her own business before, so, like many clients, she used the loan to invest in what she had the most confidence in: her cooking. She bought ingredients for small meat pies, tortillas and other inexpensive food snacks that she sold in front of the local elementary school. With her third loan of $75 she invested the money in a used refrigerator so she could sell cold drinks and perishable food products. With her fourth loan for $125 she bought the inventory of another Adelante client who was selling her small food store and moved the inventory to her mud home. By the seventh loan she had been able to build a three room concrete house and used this loan to build an extension to accommodate her small store.
...and grew into a $800 loan.
Because of Mayra's successful track record of Adelante loans and greater capital needs to fund the continued growth of her store, she is one of the first clients to have graduated to Adelante's new "Individual Loan" program. Up until this program, all Adelante loans were made to groups of women who vouched to repay the loan should one member of their group fail. However, when a successful client like Mayra needs a $800 or larger loan, it's not practical for other women who have much smaller loans to vouch to repay her loan should she default. For this reason Adelante is now providing individual loans to clients who have proven their ability to repay and have businesses with greater capital needs. Individual loans will range up to several thousands of dollars, but most will be one to four thousand dollars.
Not only does Mayra stand out as a savvy business woman, she is known within her community and by Adelante staff as an exceedingly giving person. For twenty years she has been a health department volunteer who takes blood samples when someone in her village suspects they have malaria. The term "volunteer" is a euphemism because more often than not she isn't reimbursed for her expenses. And at an age when most Honduran women are grandmothers, she recently adopted a three year old girl who needed a home. And as if she weren't doing enough, she has been selected by her assembly to be their Community Educator (click here to see the December 2005 newsletter about our new Community Educator program).
"I'm very thankful for the assistance I get from Adelante. I've recruited a lot of women to Adelante and I tell them that what Adelante teaches us is true: If you invest 100% of your loan in your business you will work your way out of poverty."