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Isabel is the recipient of the largest loan ever granted by Adelante to an individual. Isabel and her husband, Juan, own a merchandise store in a rural community. At first, they primarily sold medicines, but over the years the couple added clothes, cosmetics, accessories, dishware and other merchandise to the store’s inventory. Isabel took out her first loan for just L 3000 or $158 over five years ago, and in 2008, was awarded her first Individual Loan for L10,000 or $526. Since becoming eligible for Individual Loans, Isabel and Juan have invested in more expensive items, such as television sets and stereo equipment, which they sell on credit. In 2010, the enterprising couple received the biggest Individual Loan ever disbursed by Adelante, L 45,000 or $2368, and last year they surprised the team again by requesting a loan for L 150,000 or $7895!
The store has an inventory valued at over L 500,000 or $25,000, an incredible accomplishment that would not have been possible without microfinance. Juan asserts, ¨Adelante is a big help¨, but the success of their micro enterprise is thanks to their own hard-work and diligence reinvesting profits. The income gained from their small business has allowed the entire family to enjoy a much improved quality of life. Up until five years ago, the couple and their four children, now 16 to 20 years old, lived in a cramped space adjacent to their store. Over the course of their loan cycles with Adelante, a new home has been built with several rooms, an equipped kitchen and a patio. Their success over the last few years has ensured that each of their children have completed secondary school. Most inspiring is that Isabel is not satisfied, she divulges, ¨I have another goal, to open another store¨.
This past December, Isabel and Juan were awarded a considerable loan from Adelante for L 100,000 or $5623, which they used to purchase inventory for the holiday season. Isabel hoped that with the profits accrued over the holidays, they would be able to construct another storefront in 2012, which would sell exclusively footwear. She believes this business venture would be very profitable since the community is over three hours by bus from the nearest commercial center. The importance of reinvesting profits is not underestimated by Isabel, she explains ¨I wouldn’t want to invest a loan in order to build the store because I wouldn’t earn profits to repay the loan, it’s better to invest first in our existing business and then use the profits to build the store¨.
In addition to opening another store, the couple plans to dedicate funds to ensuring their twin 16 year old sons receive the education they need. While both have attained a basic secondary school certificate, the twins are not keen on academics, but would rather study a trade. Currently, they are paying for their 18 year old son’s diploma in agriculture at a public institute, which costs around $316 a month in rent, food, transportation and school supplies. While this exemplifies the higher standard of living the family has achieved, this considerable expense has prevented spending on other investments. Fortunately, their son will soon earn his diploma and their 20 year old daughter already finished her studies and now lives with her husband and their six month old baby in a nearby community. With only the twins to support, income can be directed towards their education, among other investments, such as leasing a vehicle. Juan travels by public transportation to San Pedro Sula, and even as far as Guatemala to purchase inventory for the store, so a vehicle would make this task more efficient.
The success story of Isabel and Juan’s merchandise store is evidence that microfinance provides an opportunity for the poor to climb out of poverty. Without the microloans they infused in their small business, this family would have never achieved the quality of life that they enjoy today.