Providing opportunities for women to start, sustain and grow a small business
The micro-lending program has been one of the most successful projectrs of Women in Action. Through the microcredit bank, which WIA run themselves, women are offered small, no interest loans for their small businesses. Most work as vendors, selling items at traffic lights or bus stops or carrying items for sale around local neighborhood or markets. Other women have small home stores where they sell basic goods or food from their own homes, such as beans or tortillas. Before the micro-lending program, many had to buy their products on credit. The loans have allowed them to buy products in bulk and therefore, earn more money from sales. The payback rate on the loans has been 90%!
Why are the loans successful? As mostly single, impoverished mothers, WIA have a sincere desire to build a better life for themselves. They know that the loans offer an important opportunity and they are committed to making the most of them. Most of the women were already involved in some kind of small enterprise, such as selling cooked bean, tortillas or vending items at traffic lights or around neighborhoods. Therefore, they have a good business sense. While Women in Action must work for everything that they receive through the project, with the micro-lending program, the women must give back what they have borrowed. Given the women are all members of WIA and that most live in the same settlement, there is a great deal of social pressure not to default. This helps ensure a high repayment rate.
What are the results?
Running a successful business and making good on a loan creates a more powerful and independent person. The women have gained pride, strength and confidence in their abilities when they successfully pay off their loan. The poverty rate in the settlement had decreased significantly due to the success of the microlending program.
In Nicaragua, a loan of $250 can spell the difference between poverty and economic self-sufficiency for an entire family. Such is the power of micro-lending, a form of finance that is helping to eradicate poverty in countries all over the world .The women are also being empowered. Successfully paying off their loans not only changes their financial status, but also their mental attitude.
Lesley Trana showing off her shoe sale business
Why should you support the program? What should make micro-finance attractive to donors is that loans are not only helping families become more self sufficient, but also as the loans are paid off, the money returned is invested in new loans. Therefore, it is a donation that keeps on giving!