A New Beginning

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Adelante client, Martha

Martha is a hard-working single mother and one of 400 Adelante clients on Roatán, which is part of the Bay Islands.  Like much of the population on Roatán, Martha migrated to the island in search of economic opportunities in order to support her family. Over six years ago, Martha left her small town in the rural Honduran department of Olancho with her two children to start a better life.  Soon after, Martha’s nephews came to join her since they did not have access to education in Olancho.  Today Martha’s micro enterprise, a small restaurant and catering service, supports a household bustling with adolescents.

Having never received a loan before, Martha was nervous about taking out her first microloan for just $211 over four years ago.  Nonetheless, Martha realized that by working hard, paying monthly installments on time, and attending bi-monthly assembly meetings, her goals could be achieved through the microfinance model afforded by Adelante.  In 2009, Martha became eligible for her first Individual Loan and has since taken out four consecutive loans for $632, and repaid each loan in less than 12 months. Martha is grateful for the opportunity provided by Adelante, explaining ¨Loans from Adelante have given me what I need to work, which allows me to put food on the table and send my children to school¨.

As an Adelante client, Martha has enjoyed a lot of success, but starting over on Roatán was difficult.  Washing and ironing clothes was how Martha used to make a living, which provided her a very limited income.  When Martha would have enough extra cash, she would invest in selling inexpensive foods, such as baleadas (a flour tortilla stuffed with refried beans, cheese, and other fillings).  Over the course of her loan cycles, Martha grew her venture so significantly that she now sells meals out of her home and caters to various local businesses.  Six months ago, Martha’s improved income allowed her to rent a new house equipped with a space facing the street so that she could have a sitting area for her clients.  She is also slowly building up an inventory to launch a small convenience store, a venture expected to be successful given her prime location.  Martha is confident that her new position in town, which is along a central street, will propel her small business to the next level, enabling her to work toward future ambitions.

A scene from Roatan

The non-collateralized loans offered by Adelante on Roatán are invaluable to clients like Martha.  Often the perceived economic opportunities do not materialize for Hondurans migrating from the mainland to the Bay Islands.  They are also burdened by a higher cost of living and usually arrive with very few possessions.  Migrants are fortunate if they manage to eventually purchase land, a big investment that is not easily achieved.  Martha is certain that in the future her micro business will allow her to finally purchase a small piece of land on the island.  Having overcome great hardship on Roatán, Martha has succeeded in sending her two teenage children to secondary school.  In addition, Martha’s nephews will soon finish primary school despite getting a late start. Martha’s story is akin to so many other poor households, but through her entrepreneurship and the opportunity offered by Adelante, Martha has improved her family’s overall quality of life.


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