By Alejandra Narvaez, Communications Specialist, Pro Mujer in Nicaragua
Pro Mujer recently opened a new center in Somotillo, a small rural town of about 30,000 in the department of Chinandega. Over the last 40 years, this largely agricultural region bordering Honduras, has been host to the development of a number of small businesses, a great number of which are owned by women who received loans from the organization.
Our newest center in the NW part of the country
Alejandra Cuadra is a community leader in Somotillo and has been selling plantains and enchiladas for the last 10 years. Her initial loan was approximately US$34. She used the funds to invest in and grow her business. Today, after many loan cycles of repaying her loans responsibly, she was able to borrow US$1,866 to grow her business further, make improvements to her home and take care of herself.
“Today I have a diversified business. I sell everything: cheese, baked goods, plantains, and with the profits I have made, in addition to a housing loan from Pro Mujer, I have improved my home, and my living conditions are much better. I tiled my floor and repaired the old walls, and right now I am working on expanding one of my rooms. Most importantly, I am healthy because Pro Mujer provides us with health services. Now with this new office in Somotillo we don’t have to travel all the way to Chinandega. We can complete all of our loan transactions here without losing time and money on the commute,” explains Alejandra.
The new center will provide teller service and serve more than 1,500 clients. By the end of the year, we project that we will double our client base in the area and reach 3,000 women.
For Gloria Ruiz, General Manager of Pro Mujer in Nicaragua, this operational expansion “is an indication of the development and growth of our organization, a sign of what awaits us in the future, and is aligned with our mission – to serve more poor women in Nicaragua. Reaching Somotillo is a very important step. It is one of the poorest areas and is in great need of our services, especially our health services. Because it is a pathway for those coming from or leaving for Honduras, there is a high rate of HIV infection, as well as other illnesses that affect women.”
Our hope is that the financial, training and health services we provide will touch all aspects of a client’s life and have an important impact. For more than 22 years, Pro Mujer has been dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty; we don’t seek to make our clients rich, but rather to help them achieve a full and more dignified life.
“It really comes down to a change of attitude – and we know what this means in the lives of these women. And what we are achieving as a team brings us a real sense of satisfaction. We work to promote our clients’ economic development, to help them take control of their lives and decide what they want to do – establish goals, take care of their health and teach their families,” says Gloria.