In Azabache, we met with the Empresa Campesino Union and Esfuerzo Collective. This micro credit organization was created in order for the
members to be able to receive small loans. As individual farmers it is almost impossible to receive a loan from a bank. Most of the loans that are needed are actually quite small. They are often in order to buy food to help the families get through the dry season when their supplies run out. Sometimes those loans are for home improvements, farm upgrades or business needs.
As an organization they were able to receive an interest free loan from Vecinos Honduras (with the support of Groundswell International). Members could then borrow from that amount. Men pay 2% interest and women pay 1%. The more money they borrow and pay back the greater their share of the profits. Profits stay in the organization. So far, they have paid back their original loan and now have enough money in the bank to fulfill future loans.
This organization was created informally about 5-6 years ago as part of VH’s holistic approach to community development. In the last year and a half, they have become a legal entity, which is a complicated and bureaucratic process that requires ongoing administration and oversight. This was done to ensure the future of the initiative. World Neighbours Canada has been supporting the training of the local
volunteers to ensure it satisfies its legal requirements.
It was noted that many of the women present had been involved in other Vecinos Honduras initiatives over the past twelve years. One woman expressed that while they would like to keep working with Vecinos Honduras and would like them to stay in the community, they also know that they have the skills and dedication to carry one, not just for themselves but for the entire community.
This February, World Neighbours Canada (WNC) board members Gabriel Newman and Judy Gray along with WNC volunteer Peter Gray visited Honduras to see the work that was being done by our partners there, Vecinos Honduras. They will be sharing stories and information that they have gathered over the next few months. Write up by Gabriel Newman. Photos by Judy Gray.