As an invited volunteer of Fundación Adelante, I was welcomed to a world only before imagined in my wildest fantasies. A world of extreme poverty, adverse conditions, and improbable odds met me head on as I stepped into the field to conduct research of social impact of Adelante’s micro-credit loans. I had seen this before many times in my experiences living in Colombia and conducting research in other Central American nations, but one notable aspect differed in this scenario than any other. There existed, in Adelante’s clients, a sense of pride, hope, and potential for financial independence on their own terms.
Seeing the women of Adelante’s communal loan groups come together gave me an insider’s look on the efforts of Adelante and other micro-credit institutions in the area to mitigate poverty in many areas of Honduras by empowering women to run their own successful micro-enterprises through business education practices and through availability of credit, affording a hand – not a hand-out – to needy women in the nation. While the true impacts of the loans made by this foundation have not yet been able to be measured in statistical terms, it seems evident that the women involved in this organization are afforded a grasp of independence through hard work and collaboration.
It was particularly exciting to see local Hondurans employed by Adelante acting as loan officers in the rural and semi-rural settings, holding their compatriates accountable for their financial debts, educational obligations, and responsibility to the other women in the collaborative. Unlike many pro-poor organizations, one rarely sees marginalized peoples held to such a high standard of conduct, which only serves to embolden the mission of Adelante.
From an outsider’s perspective, the organization, dedication, and inspiration of the local marginalized women and Adelante staff, seems to serve many steps necessary to mitigate extreme poverty in the world’s most underdeveloped nations. I look forward to the coming years as Adelante and other micro-credit institutions further their reach throughout Latin-America, uprooting a higher proportion of its poor to reach independence and financial stability through micro-lending efforts.
Additionally, I am excited to see tangible evidence of Adelante’s efforts, as quantitative statistical data is collected and analyzed within the organization through systems I put in place, as was the initial purpose of my visit. Hopefully, Adelante’s efforts will be shown through positive gains in development indicators as it tracks its clients through various loan cycles.
By: Marc Mitchell