I love to photograph for my favorite nonprofits. En Comun, a microcredit Bank on Nogales Mexico, is certainly one of those. My husband and I have supported it for years, but last week we finally had the privilege to meet some of the borrowers and see their businesses.
Modern Microcredit was devised by Mohammad Yunus, a Bangladeshi Economist who later won the Nobel Prize for Peace in 2006 for this work. He famously said, “Poverty is unnecessary.”
The gist of the Grameen Model, as his bank has come to be known, is that borrowers working in groups, mostly women, take on progressively larger loans which are paid back over a short period. The borrowers also have classes in business and receive coaching and support. The default rate is typically less than 1%.
The facts are fascinating, but nothing compares to talking with the beneficiaries.
I thought you might enjoy learning a bit about my new Mexican friends.
Lela has two teenaged kids and has used her microcredit loan expand her business selling Avon products. Her income has been spent weatherproofing her house and providing necessities for her children. She’s considering hiring other women to expand her business.
Doña Nativada Is clearly the matriarch of the neighborhood. She watches her own grandkids and other local children. She uses her loans to buy a variety of used items in the U.S. and resells them locally. She’s been able to keep her family together in Mexico, build a new home for them, and loves the choices she has because of the additional income. "It is nice to have money," she says.
Leopold is a single man who operates a successful small store selling food and household items. With his last loan, he has expanded the back of his store and created a small video game arcade for kids, which they pay for hourly. He’d like to spend his next loan on a second store which his nephew will operate.
Julia is a beautician who, working for someone else, paid 50% overhead. With her loan, she went into business for herself, in her home. Her overhead is now 20%. Her husband works in an electronic factory. She smiles widely when she explains that the best thing about the new arrangement is that she doesn’t have a boss.
Bruno is a baker. He primarily serves as a wholesaler for the many small grocery stores nearby. He has expanded, with the help of En Comun, and has two employees. His dream is to grow the business so that he and his wife and two daughters can move out of her parents’ house. He is justifiably proud of his product (we may have sampled a bit) and his success.
Five families changed forever.
Please contact me through the website if you'd like more information or want to get involved.