Nestled in the mountains two hours east of El Progreso, the scenic town of Yorito is emblematic of the rural communities the Adelante Foundation aims to serve with microcredit. Heading to the center of town, clusters of houses are separated by corn fields and grazing cattle. Rolling hills are topped with pine trees, a dominant feature of the landscape throughout the interior of Honduras. Yorito, which is in the department of Yoro, is known as the ¨Cuna de Aguan¨, or the birthplace of the Aguan River. Originating in Yorito, the river flows east to the department of Colon, where it surges and finally meets the Caribbean.
Working the land is still a mainstay for many families in the department of Yoro. Corn and beans are the traditional crops, but coffee is increasingly cultivated given that it fetches a higher price. Opportunities for employment outside of agriculture are limited, and many people migrate to San Pedro Sula, the bustling economic center of Honduras, or even to the United States. On the dirt roads around Yorito, small adobe built homes sit next to large modern houses, a juxtaposition produced by remittance income.
In Yorito, I met Aura, a micro-entrepreneur and client with Adelante. Like so many other rural graduates in Honduras, Aura completed secondary school only to find that she could not get a job in her town.
Aura explains, ¨I graduated from school and couldn’t get a job, so I took out a loan to start a business. I was nervous about being in debt, but I couldn’t do nothing, I had to work to support my household¨.
Aura invested her first loan for $105.00 in a micro-enterprise selling cosmetics, jewelry, under garments and other inexpensive items. Currently, she is paying off her third loan for $211.00. Aura lives with her mother, also an Adelante client, and three of her seven siblings. Aura helps her mother support the household, but she also has goals of her own, she affirms, ¨I would like to open my own store front so I do not have to sell door to door on credit, with a store people will come in with cash in hand.¨ In Honduras, vendors in rural areas often provide products and services to their customers on credit since many people can not afford to purchase in full. Aura confirms that she is no longer nervous about taking on debt, and is more confident today than she was over a year ago when she withdrew her first microloan.
Lidia is another Yorito resident who has experienced a boost of confidence after becoming a client with Adelante. Five years ago, Lidia and her husband both had stable jobs, but the company they worked for collapsed, leaving them without a source of income. Using what they had left of their savings, the couple opened a small convenience store. Over the years that followed, the store barely grew since there was no source of investment. Lidia’s family also grew over those years; in addition to their biological son, the couple adopted an infant girl and took in a niece too. Lidia received her first loan with Adelante for $184 in order to boost the product inventory of the family’s small business. Having never received a loan before, Lidia confides that she was very nervous, especially since she felt her family was cursed with bad luck. Now on her third loan for $516, Lidia is confident that this year, ¨we will be blessed with more success than ever before!¨
I am touched by the women I encountered in the small rural town of Yorito. Taking out a loan is nerve-racking, so I am impressed by the courage Lidia and Aura possessed to take a risk and invest in a business venture. These women want to work hard and improve their lives, but they were never given the chance until Adelante offered them non-collateralized loans. In the process, they were able to overcome their fears and build the confidence they need to accomplish their goals.