Every year, Working Capital for Community Needs invests in over 20,000 small business owners in Latin America. These microloans allow our borrowers to expand their businesses, buy medicine, send their children to school, build houses, and improve their quality of life.
Click the on the countries below to meet a few of our incredible borrowers!
ESPOIR | INSOTEC
AMOUNT INVESTED IN 2020
Flora and her husband were happily raising their five children in the countryside and supporting themselves by farming until a volcano erupted in 1999, rendering their fields infertile and toxic. Unable to grow crops or raise animals, Flora and her family were starving.
They moved to the city of Ambato and took jobs hauling food and furniture in the local market. Her husband soon joined a relative making cement blocks. After learning about how the business operated, Flora and her husband opened their own successful cement block business.
In 2010, Flora's husband fell down a flight of stairs and died, leaving Flora to run the business and support her family alone. Flora faced challenges besides the hard physical labor of block making, including lacking sufficient cash to buy materials. Flora took out a $3000 loan with WCCN’s partner INSOTEC. The loan allows Flora to buy materials for making 2000 cement blocks a day that she sells to the local municipality and other builders.
Gloria Gamay and her mother Fidelia (pictured) were harvesting hundreds of pounds of coffee by hand in a light rain when we met them. When asked how long she has been growing coffee, Fidelia responded, "Always."
The coffee field has been in the Gamay family for generations before Gloria joined FAPECAFES and underwent the rigorous application process to have Gamay coffee certified as fair trade and organic. Now, Gloria and Fidelia's hard work is rewarded with a higher price for the coffee. Certified Fair Trade and Organic coffee receives a premium of 30c a pound more when sold on the international fair trade market. Growing coffee organically has additional ecological benefits. The shade trees planted to protect the coffee promote biodiversity by providing habitat for birds and other species.
MARIA ELENA VEGA
Maria has been selling vegetables in the market in Quito for more than ten years. Five years ago, she and her husband took out their first business loan from WCCN partner agency INSOTEC for $800.
Since then, the loan has helped them expand and diversify the produce they sell, dramatically increasing their clients and sales. They have taken out five more loans to support their business. Their hard work growing their business has allowed them to be able to purchase a truck and pay for their children's education.
Maria is a 63-year-old indigenous farmer living in the central Andes.
She works as a farmer growing potatoes, carrots, radishes, and fingerling potatoes. At the age of 61 she took out her first loan for $1,000. She used the loan to buy seeds and fertilizers, increasing her production and ultimately her profits.
Maria had wanted to borrow money in the past, but was unable due to her lack of sufficient collateral. WCCN partner INSOTEC provided her access to credit and her business has expanded. Maria has successfully repaid her first loan and has secured a second loan to help with a second planting. With her increased profits she was able to put a new roof on her house, making her life a bit easier.
Laura has sold vegetables for 15 hours a day, seven days a week for the last 30 years. When asked if she likes her work she responded, "It is my life." She cheerfully explained how working with WCCN partner Espoir has helped her business succeed.
Before working with Espoir, she had to borrow money from a loan shark who charged a lot of interest. Now running her business is much easier because she knows she will be treated fairly, get her loan request approved promptly and have less paperwork than if she tried to borrow from a bank. She has also been able to buy a pickup truck to haul her produce to and from the market.
Laura is a widow with four children to support. She is most proud that through her labor, her oldest two children are attending university; one is studying finance and the other is in a program for computer engineering. Her youngest two children are still in high school.
Daniel has been a coffee farmer for 36 years and a member of FAPECAFES since 2003. When we visited his farm, he explained that biodiversity is essential for pest control on organic farms in a semi-tropical climate.
Daniel had to switch from growing coffee conventionally to growing it organically when he joined FAPECAFES. He said the change wasn’t hard because organization technicians showed him how, and he now receives better prices for organic coffee. He also likes the new pruning method done by the organization. This method keeps plans sure to increase yield and also speeds the harvest because people can pick with two hands. Daniel's hard work today is rewarded when he receives a fair price for his coffee, and the world benefits from his commitment to biodiversity.
ASEI | PADECOMSM
ROSA MELIDA DIAZ
Santa Rita, El Salvador
Rosa has been selling tortillas for the past 18 years. Before receiving loans from ASEI, she sold about 100 per day. Now, she sells about 1,000. She even has hired employees to help her with the flattening and cooking process.
When she started with ASEI 14 years ago with an $11 loan to purchase corn, there were times earlier on in which she couldn’t eat, but now she can. She now has running water and electricity. She has seen her community improved because of ASEI.
She has 3 grandkids who are 28, 26, and 24. She has helped pay for them to go to high school and college.
JOSE GILBERTO MENDOZA
Isla Tasajera, El Salvador
José works as a shrimp farmer just off the Pacific Coast and describes this work as a gift.
His first loan with INTEGRAL was for $3,500 and he used the funds to begin working at a small pond to harvest shrimp. He saw his production increase greatly. He has increased his loan sizes over time to further expand his operations and farm more shrimp. He says that without access to credit, he would have nothing.
INTEGRAL has helped his island a great deal, and José is able to provide jobs in the community. If they have a business and need financing to bridge a gap in their business, INTEGRAL is able to help them. He appreciates that INTEGRAL is close to him and understands the needs of the people on his island. He worked with other microfinance banks for 15 years and switched to INTEGRAL because the institution would give him a larger loan. The loan officer is flexible with him and if he has any delays on payments, they work together toward mutually beneficial solutions.
MARIA ESPERANZA GARCIA
Zacatecolua, El Salvador
Maria works making tortillas, tamales, pupusas, and other fresh food, growing much of her corn herself and turning it to flour. She has help from her sons and from other members of the community, but due to how much she produces by hand, she spends long hours cooking, only resting on New Year’s Day and the Saturday before Easter. She often works until midnight every day.
Each week, she generates income making a variety of foods: tamales ($80), pupusas ($50), cheese ($300) and tortillas ($75). She makes about 1,350 tortillas by hand every day.
Her son helps her keep track of the financial aspects of her business and make her loan payments on time so she can focus on cooking. She has 9 kids, 3 of which help her with her business.
Before working with INTEGRAL, she was food insecure and was not able to eat three times a day. Now, her income ensures a better diet, and she sells her products to the community, including any extra raw materials that households might need for their own businesses. Her house is a community hub.
Her most recent loan was for $1,500 for housing improvements, and she received technical assistance from an architect to build a small house on her property for her daughter and grandson to stay in. The loan was also used to fix the floor and paint the house to protect it from wear and tear.
Maria also recently opened up a savings account with INTEGRAL, and with her next loan disbursement she will begin receiving health and life insurance. She feels good that she has been able to raise good kids and has left them with more resources than she started with.
MELIDA ROSA DE GUILLEN
Costa del Sol, El Salvador
Melida works with añil or indigo, a blue dye derived from the tropical plant of the same name. She sells the dye locally and makes clothing with custom designs.
She got involved with INTEGRAL through the Hermosa Program in 2010 which taught her and other women how to make purses and jewelry to sell so she can increase her income.
Before access to credit, she was able to make $100-$200 per day. Now she is able to make $300 per day due to her increased production capacity. She has an agreement with the mayor who often promotes her work when he is representing Costa del Sol in other places by buying the shirts from her and giving them as gifts.
Now that she has access to credit and generates her own income, she has more self-confidence. She was married but experienced domestic abuse, which the Hermosa program supported her through. She is no longer with her abuser.
She has 6 kids in total. 2 kids are from her relationship with her ex-husband and she raised them by herself. She has lived in her current house for 16 years. She also takes advantage of INTEGRAL's low-cost life insurance and medical insurance, which covers $20 of the cost of the medicines she needs for her heart condition.
La Paz, El Salvador
Nohemi lives near the Pacific Coast and makes sea shell art and wind chimes to sell to tourists. She has 7 kids and experienced food insecurity when she was younger. 3 years ago she started selling the seashells to earn extra income with just a $3 investment.
Nohemi got involved with INTEGRAL through the program PATI, which helps train women with skills that they need to be successful entrepreneurs. She was making $12 per week before the loan with INTEGRAL.
She received her first loan with INTEGRAL in 2014 for $250 for materials to expand her sea-shell business. She now makes $50 to $60 on a good day, though her business is heavily dependent on tourism.
Her life has improved as now she always has at least some money available for food and emergencies. Before INTEGRAL, it was impossible to get a loan with a conventional bank because she did not have collateral or proof of income. She has recommended that her friends take out loans with INTEGRAL. She also now has health insurance with she pays a small fee for with her monthly loan payments with INTEGRAL.
PEDRO HERNANDEZ DIAZ
Zatecoluca, El Salvador
Pedro has been working with bees for 15 years, first for someone else, and then on his own beginning six years ago. It is a difficult business to master, and he has faced food insecurity. His former boss pays him on a contract basis to do some management of his hives during the rainy season, and has helped Pedro export some of his honey.
He heard about FADEMYPE in 2015 after unsuccessfully trying to get loans from traditional banks due to a lack of credit references and collateral. Pedro received his first loan for $1,000 so that he could buy the raw materials to build and maintain his hives. He now manages 37 hives.
Access to credit has helped him see some earnings and overcome over-indebtedness. His payments to FADEMYPE are manageable and now he can pay for school for his three kids. He now has life insurance as a part of the loan.
ADICLA | ADISA | SERVIGUA
AMOUNT INVESTED IN 2020
Martina and her husband raise snow peas and are part of Las Canoas, a fair trade-certified cooperative. They have a strong vision for growing their business and with each loan they take out, they have built up their capacity to run their business. Their first loan was to build a cement block home instead of the wood panel house they had. Then they invested in land to expand their farm. The couple now has 5 cuerdas (unit of land) and hopes to expand to 8-9 cuerdas. During harvest time, they employ local workers to help them. Martina also sells flowers that she grows in their yard.
San Andres Semetabaj, Guatemala
Gloria had experience with a savings group 20 years ago, but left when other members stopped paying back their credit. She decided to take another chance on credit when she needed money for her children's schooling. Gloria used her $1000 loan to invest in a new business growing oyster mushrooms. She's now managing her own credit and the profits are making a difference in her life and her family's life. "Our children are able to study and we can eat better. [We enjoy] more vegetables and [buy] what we like," she says.
Martin is a longtime client of ADICLA. He's a small farmer cultivating onions, potatoes, carrots and radishes on 3 cuerdas of rented land. His farm is at the entrance to Solola and rent has been steady, but it’s hard to find affordable land in the area, so he continues to use credit to finance his farm. ADICLA is flexible with payment when the harvest isn't good. Usually when one harvest is bad, he's able to get a second harvest and keep up with his responsibilities. Credit has allowed him to keep his children in school. He has five children between the ages of 12 and 21. "I don't have a lot to give my children, so the inheritance I can give them is an education."
TOMASA SAQUIC CALEL
Tomasa is well regarded in the community for the beautiful huipiles (traditional blouses) she makes. Unlike most women in the area, she didn't learn weaving from her mother, instead taking an interest as a young adult and learning from a group of other women. Now she has become a talented weaver and can charge much more for her pieces. Before receiving credit, she was never able to afford the raw material to build up stock. With her first loan, she has been able to buy silk thread and create more huipiles. Her two daughters help out. Tomasa's husband passed away years ago and her daughter has two sons who are confined to wheelchairs. The income from their weavings is vital.
JOSE SENTE TZOC
José apprenticed with a maker of cortes, traditional skirts used by most women in the area, for three years before moving out to launch his own business. Credit from SERVIGUA allowed him to purchase raw material and two looms that he installed in a small adobe building near his home where he and his cousin work together. As an employee, he would earn $12 for each corte he produced, but now as his own boss, he makes double that. "Having access to this credit has helped me to build my business from the start and now I can improve our house and the life of my family."
CARMEN ELLISIA CHITEC MATEO
High in the hills outside of Chichicastenango, Carmen and her husband Romulo run a small workshop making dolls. While Romulo manages operations, Carmen is in charge of administration, managing the overall business. Credit from SERVIGUA allowed them to buy a new machine, which helped them improve from just 300 to 400 dolls per week to over 2,400 dolls. They now have 8 employees and the income has allowed them to build their business and make home improvements.
AMC | AHSETFIN | PRISMA FINSOCIAL
AMOUNT INVESTED IN 2020
NOEMY LUCI CRUZ ORELLANA
Valle de Angeles, Honduras
Noemy has been running a bakery with her daughter for the last 17 years. Before that, she had a sewing shop but had to switch to working from home when her eyesight declined to where she couldn’t see and she had to make choices about what to buy: glasses or other essentials. For over ten years, she experienced food insecurity and sometimes could only eat one meal per day.
Her first loan with ASEI was for raw materials like flour, yeast, sugar, and salt needed to make the bread for the Christmas season. This loan allowed her to stabilize her finances. Before the loan, she was only able to sell smaller amounts of bread at different houses. Since then, she has been able to upgrade her production, improve her income and buy glasses. She is now food secure, has improved her mental health, and is now able to teach people in the community how to make bread.
OLGA MARINA RIOS
Olga farms guayaba (guava) in a valley at the foot of the mountains just outside of Comayagua, Honduras. She has 9 kids and one of her daughters and her daughter’s husband lives with her.
She bought the farm where she lives now 6 years ago but struggled to keep her guava trees alive due to the many pests which eat the fruit, causing rot and dryness and subsequently robbing her of income.
She received her first loan from AMC Honduras in 2015 for $442, to buy paper bags to protect her fruit from pests and fertilizer as well to keep trees healthy enough to resist disease. Without these loans from AMC Honduras, she would have lost most of the trees on her farm and would have to have sold it. Now she has so much work with her healthy trees that she has employed one other person to help with the harvest.
Victor makes high quality clothes from his home and sells them in bulk to various towns around the area. He took out his first loan from AMC Honduras for $663 in 2010 to purchase raw materials needed to make his product. His most recent loan has allowed him to sell clothes at new retail locations in the area.
He and his family moved to Comayagua due to the violence in the area where they lived and where he grew up in Chaloma. In Chaloma, drugs and gangs are prevelant and many of the children are targeted for recruitment in the gang as early as 10 years old, with many children being coerced into joining because the lives of their families are threatened. Victor moved his family to Comayagua because it has more safety and security as well as a safer environment for raising his children.
Thanks to the help from AMC Honduras in starting his business and helping him grow, he has been able to send his kids (now 18,19, and 20) to high school and “Thanks be to God” has not been food insecure. His loan comes with a small life insurance payment during the life of the loan so that in case something happens to him, his family is taken care of.
In the future, he wants to buy more raw materials to expand his business further and so he can send his kids to college so they can study professions that give them more stability than he had at their age.
MIRIAM LIZETH RIVERA
Valle de Angeles, Honduras
Miriam is an artist specializing in painting on canvas and painting on wood. Her first loan with ASHETFIN was in 2015 for 15,000 lempiras ($664) to buy supplies, so she could make and sell more art to increase her income. Before her loan she was grossing 1,000 lempiras ($44) a week and now she is grossing 5,000 lempiras ($224) a week.
She has 3 children, all of whom are female and all of whom are college graduates thanks in part to the loans. She would like to use future loans to create an amphitheater on her property where local artists can display their works.
Padrit currently has two loans: one to expand her tortilla business and another as part a program to store clean, potable water for easy future use in a cost effective way.
Her first few loans were used to buy materials for making tortillas and for improving her house. Before working with ASHETFIN, she had to buy flour on credit from a distributor. With the upgrades, she was able to increase tortilla production from about 1,800 every day to 2,200 every day. She also added a cement floor to her house so that water doesn’t pool inside the house, eliminating the breeding ground for mosquitoes and malaria, and replaced a rotting, collapsing roof. In 2014, she was able to build a water storage unit in the back of her house. Now, her home and workplace is more sanitary and her kids are sick less often. She is able to rest more (and relax watching telenovelas) and doesn’t have to be in the kitchen all day.
She has 3 kids (13, 27, and 36) and with her increased income was able to buy things her youngest kid needed for school, like uniforms, books, and backpacks. She wants her kids to go to college.
ALBA ANTONIA AGUILERA
Alba sells fresh food like chicken, potatoes, squash, salad, and plantains in her community in Tegucigalpa.
Her first loan with ASHETFIN was for $221 to purchase raw materials to sell more fresh food. She has had 5 more loans since the first one, each allowing her to purchase greater amounts of raw materials and increase her income. She had to take out a loan with ASHETFIN because of increased competition from other food vendors in her community and because she spent up her savings in a family emergency. Her brother and nephew were killed, and she took care of all the expenses relating to the funeral and in taking care of her brother’s wife. After meeting with a counselor from ASHETFIN, she was able to get a loan in 3 days, which allowed her to keep her business.
Alba used to experience frequent water shortages, as she would only have access to water once a week. Sometimes it would only come at midnight and the only way she knows that water is flowing is due to the sound in the faucet, and she would have to be waiting and ready with dozens of found containers like empty juice cartons to save up the water.
She has had a water tank with ASHETFIN’s CrediAgua program for 1 year now and greatly enjoys it. She just has to open up the tank when the water is flowing and it takes 30 minutes to fill up, and does so without any extra effort from her. Previously, she could lose ½ a day filling up many found containers and would have to stop everything to fill the containers. Now, she doesn’t have to worry about using water and can clean her store and the food she prepares.
ACODEP | ALDEA | AMLK COOPEFACSA | FUDEMI MiCredito | PRODESA
AMOUNT INVESTED IN 2020
MARIA ISABEL BERMUDEZ
Nueva Guinea, Nicaragua
Marta Isabel Bermudez, is a tortilla maker in Nueva Guinea. She started her business two years ago with a loan for C$ 7000 ($210 USD). The loan was to purchase corn, firewood, vegetables, and curdcheese. She is able to make her own profits, employ 3 women and support her family.
MARIA ASTORGA & HAZELL CHACON
Nueva Guinea, Nicaragua
Maria and Hazell are mother and daughter partners of a small family yogurt business. In 2015, they took their first loan for C$ 6,000 ($180 USD) for starting operations and purchasing kitchen and cookware in order to increase production. Thanks to the loans, they were able to continue the family business and reinvest the profits, and are now distributing the product in three new municipalities in Managua, San Carlos, Blufields and Masaya.
JOSE MARIA PERALTA
Nueva Guinea, Nicaragua
José is a longtime borrower of WCCN, starting with his first loan 15 years ago for the amount of C$ 10,000 ($300 USD). Though the first loan was used for cattle raising, Jose Maria most recently took out a loan for growing coffee. He feels very proud getting higher profits and providing employment.
Nueva Guinea, Nicaragua
Fanor is the owner of a small saddlery in town. He has been working in this business for 20 years. He obtained his first loan 15 years ago for purchasing raw materials and improving the productivity of his processing site. The size of the loan was C$ 40,000 (1,200 USD). He has been a borrower for 6 years, which has allowed him to grow the business, increase profits, employ people, and invest in other businesses in the community.
Nueva Guinea, Nicaragua
Marlleny has run a beauty salon in Nueva Guinea since 2014. She got her first loan two years ago through our group lending program for the amount of C$ 6,000 ($180 USD). Since then, she has completed 8 additional loans for inventory and tools. The loans received have helped her to increase the services her salon can offer and improve her living conditions for herself and her 4 year old daughter.
PACIFICO | Rainforest Trading
EUFEMIA MARIA CARGUAPOMA
Eufemia wakes at 4 am every day, six days a week to travel to a bulk-sales fruit market in Piura where she can buy fruit for her stand on the other side of town. Work ends at 8pm when she goes home to rest for a few hours before starting over. It was only two years ago that Eufemia lost everything in the floods that affected most residents of Piura and closed the market for week. Eufemia used the revenue from her fruit stand to put four of her children through university, and they all found work soon thereafter. One is a mining engineer, one is an optometrist, one is an engineer, one is a lawyer, and the other is taking over her fruit stand in the market. When we asked her what her dreams are, she said, "I would like to travel all over the world. But (with a wink), since I haven't ever traveled before, even just seeing some of Peru would be nice!"
MARLENY ZAPATA CARAZCO
Marleny is one of those people that fills a room, or a public market in this case, with love, laughter and positive energy. She started her food stand in the market ten years back with the original loan to purchase the space and counters coming from Crediamigo. "I never would have been able to accumulate the capital to do this on my own. When the space came open I had to move quickly. I'm sure I wasn't the only person looking at it." Marleny started with one counter, and eventually expanded to three counters, with her two children (25 and 19) helping to manage the spot. One of her dreams is to open up a bar near her home in order to take advantage of their strategic location in the city. Another is to start some kind of organization that would serve food to the elderly and homeless population of Piura at little or no cost. "We have a big social service problem in this city, and it would be great if we could organize to help solve it." The flood of 2017 was devestating for everyone in Piura and Marleny was no exception. "There was water over my head, and we lost everything that wasn't made of metal or stone." That meant all of her food, napkins, chairs, etc. "Crediamigo was super flexible and helped me get back on my feet. I've now paid them back everything I owed them, and I've been able to make the restaurant better.
AMELIA FLORES AKURTU
Amelia started her small street stand that sells ceramics and gourds about ten years ago when she was 25. She has a 500 soles line of credit with Crediamigo which helps her purchase the ceramics from other artists and buy gourds, which she and her husband carve and decorate. It has been a good business and has enabled her to enroll her five children in school. The oldest, who is 17, plans to get a pharmacy degree. The family appreciates the flexibility and rapidness that Crediamigo provide which help them run their business efficiently to create more time for their family.
DELIA MONDRAGON RIOS
For microfinance borrower Delia Mondragon Rios the chain of events is simple: A $100 loan ten years ago enabled her three children to have a college education. Ten years ago, Delia joined a community bank formed by WCCN partner ARARIWA because she needed a loan to buy buy flour to make bread. Over the years, she has continued to borrow money to expand her bakery. By increasing her sales and subsequent income, Delia was able to send her three children to the local university.
AUGUSTIN GARAY & MARIA DELGALDO
Alto Mayo Valley, Peru
Agustin and Maria are a husband and wife farming team and members of APAVAM, an association of farmers from the Alto Maya Valley. The cooperative is dedicated to growing and exporting fair trade organic coffee, improving the lives of their members and protecting the environment.
Agustin grew up very poor in Peru and was unable to attend school. Due to lack of opportunities, he was forced to work on a coca farm for five years until the army raided the farm and he fled. After the raid, he returned home, rented a small piece of land and started growing coffee. Agustin had been growing coffee for many years and had attended several AVAPAM workshops on how to grow higher quality coffee to sell for better prices. After one talk, Agustin spoke with a technician about selling his coffee at a higher price. The technician told him to bring a sample of his coffee to the AVAPAM offices, and his coffee was graded gourmet and export quality.
Before Joining AVAPAM, Agustin sold their coffee for $38 per 100 pounds. Now, they are receiving $64 per 100 pounds, which has allowed them to purchase more land and expand their operations!
VICTOR CHOCCE ROMERO
Victor is an organic coffee farmer and a member of Mountain Coffee since 2005. The membership has provided him access to loans to help him tend his coffee trees and harvest his crop. He previously lacked the funds to pay workers to harvest his crops or to educate his children. As a member, Victor and other farmers now have access to education and training on best practices for growing quality organic coffee. Due to the training received, Victor now is able to market his coffee as organically certified and receive a substantially higher price for the higher quality coffee.