The Women

On average, a woman receiving a first time loan from DiscoverHope has the following profile:

She has a rudimentary primary education or less
She has three or more children
She does not own her home
She supports an average family household of five or more
She supports her family on approximately $2 (rural) to $7 (urban) per day

Against these odds, the women persist and succeed.  These are their stories…

“Thanks to DiscoverHope and my teacher, Lily, I know how to sign my name, write simple sentences, and add and subtract. At the market, I count change without making mistakes and take inventory of my vegetables. My glasses have made such a difference! I can now read the small letters in my Bible and complete my homework much faster.”
– Carmen Ramirez

Carmen Ramirez, a 44 year old mother of four, lives in the rural village of Tartar Chico. In March of 2010, she joined Village Bank Fuerza y Bendición (Strength & Blessings) to increase her vegetable production and to take literacy classes. With her $150 microloan, she purchased high grade seeds and a small drip irrigation system. After two loan cycles, Carmen had tripled her vegetable sales. She now hosts a DiscoverHope literacy circle in her home to study together with friends and enjoys crocheting with her village bank members.

Carmen’s eyesight makes reading difficult but prescription glasses easily exceed her budget. In the spring of 2011, Discover Hope organized a Vision Campaign thanks to the generous donation by Hospedaje Los Jazmines, and provided 150 free pairs of prescription eyeglasses to our members and their families. Carmen was delighted to receive her own pair of glasses.

 

“DiscoverHope has offered me a wonderful opportunity to provide for my family. I now have the skills to advance my business and earn more money in the process. My vision is to eventually open a restaurant in my home town of San Marcos. For the first time in my life, I believe that whatever I dream I can actually make a reality.” 

– Rosa Montoya

Rosa Montoya, a 37 year old mother of two, began selling candies and snacks from her home to support her family. After three months of struggling sales, Rosa sought out capital and advice from DiscoverHope to keep her business from failing. In August 2010, Rosa joined Village Bank Mujeres Emprendedoras (Women Entrepreneurs). With the guidance of her promotora (promoter), Rosa changed her business to a sandwich and fruit juice stand. She used her first loan of $150 to buy a small glass display for her sandwiches, a blender and ingredients. Rosa soon earned enough to purchase two more glass displays. Her business continued to grow and during the next loan cycle, Rosa invested in a small refrigerator. She also began attending classes at the HopeHouse, learning new recipes to incorporate into her business. Rosa now eagerly attends a variety of HopeHouse classes, exploring new possibilities and learning new skills. As a true entrepreneur, she has big plans for the future.

“We are proud to be this year’s Top Bank. As one of the original members I feel so blessed that instead of quitting, we decided to stay and make our bank a place where we can improve our businesses and learn new activities. Thank you, DiscoverHope.” 

– Isabel De La Cruz, President Las Progresistas Village Bank

DiscoverHope is proud to maintain a 100% microloan payback rate. A woman’s payback money directly circulates into additional loans for herself and her village bank. That does not mean, however, that no woman has ever defaulted on a microloan. That would be unrealistic. Instead, each village bank, as a group, takes ultimate responsibility to cover the microloan. Such adversity is rare, but when it happens, village banks persevere, overcome and ultimately become stronger.

Las Progresistas (Progressing Women) Village Bank is a fantastic example.  Formed February 2010, the group faced   problems when three members regularly missed repayment meetings and refused to contribute to their savings account. Naturally, group morale was low and a solution was needed. Instead of dismantling, the remaining members removed the incompliant women and invited trusted neighbors to fill the vacancies. They held fundraisers to pay off the former members’ debt. Las Progresistas now consists of nine members, all of whom are in the business of raising and selling small animals. A very strong team, they continue to organize small fundraisers but now use the proceeds to grow their savings accounts. During the holiday season members sold cups of delicious mazamorra, a popular hot drink made from boiling purple corn with pineapple, apples, cornstarch and lots of sugar and cinnamon.

Today, Las Progresistas truly live the definition of “progressing women.” In recognition of their perseverance, solidarity and strength, DiscoverHope proudly awarded Las Progresistas with the distinction of “Top Bank of 2011.”  

 

For more images, access our photo gallery. For more stories from the field, view our 2013 Annual Report.