Eight years ago, Maria and her husband were struggling to support their family in León, Nicaragua, the second poorest country in the Americas after Haiti, where 48% of the population lives below the poverty line.
An initial loan of US$48 provided Maria with the power to invest in her business and buy ingredients such as corn, beans, rice and oil in bulk.
As her business grew, Maria’s income increased and life dramatically improved for her and her family. Her children were able to stop working and instead focus on their studies.
She was able to improve their living conditions by upgrading the plastic covering on their walls with brick and her dirt floors to concrete. The primitive fire pit that she once cooked over, the smoke from which is one of the leading causes of potentially lethal respiratory illnesses, has since been replaced with a large, more modern stove.
Maria was also able to acquire a bicycle enabling her to diversify her business and travel greater distances to sell her products.
Just as Maria and her family reached a high point in their economic well-being, she suffered a major set-back. During a regular Pap screening offered through Pro Mujer’s primary health care services, she received an abnormal result. Maria was quickly referred to a surgeon and able to receive a life-saving operation.
Building upon the success of the past few years, Maria and her family continue to prepare for a brighter future.