The collaboration between Advance Guatemala and Namaste Direct provides unique business development services and microloans for women entrepreneurs in Guatemala, endowing them with a powerful set of tools for their social and economic development.
To improve the lives of clients and their families, Namaste Direct offers a personalized package for economic empowerment, including:
- Monthly one-on-one business training in cash flow analysis and business development, with a local, specialized business advisor
- Facilitation of lively business education exercises, allowing women to share best practices within a group of peers
- A low-interest microcredit loan for business improvement and expansion
In our collaborative work together, each organization leverages its strengths to ensure that everyone wins. Namaste Direct’s in-country infrastructure serves as the foundation to our project’s success. Namaste Direct identifies the entrepreneurs that will be funded and trained by their advisors, and Advance Guatemala helps increase the level of necessary funding to improve the sustainability and impact we can accomplish together.
Focus on Financial Literacy
Without basic financial training, many microcredit borrowers can end up worse off than before they took a loan. With this program, each Namaste Direct Entrepreneur learns important cash management techniques, such as separating business from personal money. Through culturally-sensitive education materials and participatory techniques, clients learn by doing, along with a supportive group of cohorts. As a result, Namaste Direct Entrepreneurs gain control over their businesses and their lives.
Our Customized Microcredit Program
Each woman’s business is unique, which is why microloans are tailored to the specific needs of each client.
Before making a loan, Namaste Direct performs metrics to qualify clients and to help determine the program’s impact. At the outset, the organization measures the daily income of each Namaste Entrepreneur. Within 30 days of receiving a loan, borrowers must satisfy their personal business adviser that they have invested at least 80% of the loan proceeds into their businesses. Throughout the loan cycle, clients must demonstrate that their business profits are sufficient to be the source of loan repayments.
These steps help us guard against “loan stacking” and the inappropriate use of funds, issues which plague the booming microcredit industry. After verifying that each new Namaste Entrepreneur is on a solid footing for success, Namaste Business Advisors work with their clients to define specific business objectives, outlining small steps to take to achieve their dreams.
Isabel Guarchaj is 38 years old and illiterate because she didn’t have the opportunity to attend school. As a child, her mother taught her embroidery skills, and over the years, she started making and selling clothes. Today, in addition to making her own clothes, she buys and sells traditional clothing to meet the demands of the local clientele.
Isabel is part of a solidarity group named Sector Paraiso in Santa Catarina Ixtahuacan, Solola. She heard about CPP from a friend, whose business had grown through our program. Isabel knew that her own business would improve with Financial Education and Advising so she applied to join. Isabel works 11 hours a day and she has dedicated more of her time to work with her Business Advisor and Educator, Bayron Galdamez, for the past seven months. During this time, she has learned to track her sales and expenses and has implemented all of Bayron’s advice, which has resulted in a 53% increase in her profits.
Elena is in Namaste’s Starz Program which is exclusively for women who have successfully completed the first three cycles of CPP. Namaste’s Starz have big dreams and tremendous ambition to create a better life. Elena is 42 years old, and is essentially a single mother, as her husband migrated to the United States without documentation, several years ago. In an effort to support her four children, she decided to start a business making typical clothing and also buying and selling used traditional clothes.
As a young girl, Elena only attended school through 1st grade, but after her children were born, she took classes at night in order to learn to read and write. During her first cycles with Namaste’s CPP, she made enough money to finish building her house and she also bought some land where she is planting coffee with the help of her oldest children. In the Starz Program, she has received advanced financial education and after consulting with her advisor, she is implementing new products for her business.
She has learned how to negotiate and has established a small distribution system in Xejuyup, Santo Tomas and Paculam, with other women from her community who work as her employees. Her dream is to open distribution in other communities where she is referred by friends and the saleswomen. She personally does the shopping in other regions such as Quetzaltenango. Since Elena started Namaste’s CPP in October 2014, she has increased her profits by 265%. Today, her average profit per hour is $10.23 (582% more than the minimum wage in Guatemala of $1.50)!
Sara Pumay Valle is a 39-year-old single mother, who is deeply devoted to her young daughter. In 2017, Sara’s husband died in a motorcycle accident. Since then, she has been living with her in-laws. Sara owns a convenience store and a miscellaneous store. She has also taken over her husband’s business, which sells fried chicken in the afternoons. With all these different businesses, she has hired one person who helps her with them.
Sara lives in Alotenango, Sacatepequez and has been working with Namaste’s CPP for two cycles. She heard about Namaste from her sister, who participated in our program with great success. Sara wants to be as successful as her sister. After participating in Namaste’s CPP for just two cycles, she has increased her profits by 71%.
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