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Opening Doors to Opportunity

By Bob Stodola

Many of the participants in the Learning Centers have learned skills that they would like to use to start a business, but do not have the funds or businessknowledge. The Opening Doors project is intended to give business training plus a small amount of funds to enable them to start a business enterprise. Each participant is expected to repay the loan so that others could be given the same opportunities in the future. 2009, 54 women and 4 men received training and enrolled in the project to begin or make improvements to their businesses. Some of the businesses they invested on were: commercialization of plastic products, clothing, cosmetics and fruits, provide car rental, chair rental, sewing business, establishment of a beauty salon and bookstore, hand crafts making, sale of natural products, book sale, embroidery, bakery, sale of bedding clothes, basic medicine, vegetables, tortilla making, buffet, fruit, CDs and DVD sale, mini bar, drawing classes, perfume sale, sale of school supplies, sale of phone cards and jewelry commercialization. Most of the borrowers did great in their businesses and have paid back their loans. These loans have indeed made a difference in the lives of their families and have allowed them to grow and to have a better financial situation at home.

Below there are a few examples of true stories from some of the people who got loans.

“…when I received the loan from compañeros, I had just given birth to my fifth child. I’m known around the village for making tortillas…” (at this point, all the women in the room voiced their agreement) “…so I decided to use the loan to buy ingredients to make and sell tortillas. I saved the profit I made, and bought an industrial oven, to make even more tortillas. Now, myself, my mother-in-law, and my five children can survive, and eat every day” - Ana Antonia

“Like, Ana Antonia, I am a mother. When I received the loan, I used it to purchase clothes in Managua, (since they are more expensive in Boaco) and sold them in Las Lagunas. I am able to extend credit to other villagers so that they can purchase clothes, and now, myself and all my children have clothes.”

“I used the loan I received to expand my pharmacy. Before I received the loan, I was only able to purchase and sell 15 types of medication. Now that I received the loan, I am able to purchase more than thirty types of medication, at a lower price from an NGO in Managua. I can then charge the villagers lower prices as well. We've expanded to include a program for those with Asthma, and I participate in further medical training every two months. I am also a midwife, and train other midwives. I also give free shots to those who purchase medication that needs to be injected, from my pharmacy.” -Maria

In 2010, W/NP provided projects to 7 Learning Centers, where they can invest in an already established business or create a new one. In November of 2011, 55 women and 5 men from the following eight Learning Centers received business training by the WNP accountant and participated in the program:

  1. Centro Solidaridad y Amistad, Las Lagunas/Boaco
  2. Centro de Aprendizaje Buenos Aires
  3. Centro de Aprendizaje Paraiso del Ticuantepe/Managua
  4. Centro de Aprendizaje Brazos de Amor/Managua
  5. Centro de Aprendizaje Gracias a Dios/ Managua
  6. Centro de Aprendizaje San Gabriel/ Valle Los Aburtos Managua
  7. Centro de Aprendizaje Manos Solidarias/ Rosita Mine, RAAN – North Coast
  8. Centro de Aprendizaje El Piñuelar/ León

Some of the businesses they will invest in include: Clothing & shoe sale, sewing (garment construction), jewelry and hand crafts, bakery, cosmetic sale, food sale, medicine sale (this person is authorized by MINSA to seel certain medications in the community), piñata making and tamales, mini store, beauty, vegetables & fruit sale, groceries, sale of dairy products, and food for cows.

Click here for follow-up stories (attachment Personal Stories)

Click here to view the Opening Doors Project PDF.

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