Monday, August 12, 2013

Credit as a Human Right

This post is written by PHPG's summer intern, Charlie Bates. Charlie recently finished his sophomore year at Villanova University. Majoring in economics, he is spending the summer in Granada working as a microfinance intern with PHPG and also volunteers at a local elementary school with La Esperanza

The PHPG team on a loan collections day in El Pantanal

In the United States, it's common to see ads for websites that offer to calculate credit scores (think The point is obviously to judge whether someone is deserving of the privilege of access to credit. Being a 20-year-old college student, I'm fortunate enough to not know much more than that about credit scores. As I've been working with PHPG, though, I've recently been reflecting the role of credit in light of a very interesting idea by Muhammad Yunus, a pioneer of microfinance. 

Yunus often repeats his deeply embedded belief, “Credit is a fundamental human right.” My first thought: isn't access to credit a privilege given to those who are deserving?

According to Yunus, access to credit is a human right because it allows people to earn themselves the things they're entitled to by virtue of their birth: food, water, shelter, education, etc. It's a human right because, without it, a substantial percentage of the world's population cannot earn enough to afford such basic necessities. 

Most people in El Pantanal, one of the communities in which PHPG works, do not otherwise have access to the credit. For those in the US who use sites like to help them get a loan for a car or a luxury item, credit is a privilege; for the folks in El Pantanal who need it to have a chance at creating a better life, it's undeniably a right. But of course, rights come with responsibilities (namely, to repay the loans). And as I explained in my last post, PHPG's clients in El Pantanal understand that responsibility.  

I'm drawing attention to this because, both for us in Nicaragua and for our supporters in the US, it's important to reflect on why we provide access to credit. People Helping People Global doesn't do it because it's a nice thing to do; we do it because we also believe that credit is a fundamental human right.  

Saturday, August 3, 2013

The Pulsera Project Loans in Action

This post is written by Trent Shelton, PHPG's Program Coordinator in the Granada region.

A month ago, we distributed 10 loans to members of the Pulsera Project cooperative. In the past 30 days, each client has had the chance to invest the loan into their own business. Ranging from businesses of buying and selling cheese to repairing and selling cell phones, the young adults are now in action with their own businesses. Here are highlights of a few of the businesses.


Yelma, one of the Pulsera Project’s long time coop members, has always wanted to start his own business of raising chickens. However, the high start-up cost was always the main obstacle. Owning a small piece of land on the outskirts of Granada, he was prepared to make his dream come true. With the help of the loan provided by the partnership between the Pulsera Project and PHPG, Yelma has put his business plan into action.

Yelma has constructed a chicken coup equipped with all the necessities. During the day, he makes sure someone is there to take care of the operation, usually himself or a member of his family. To start, 102 chicks were purchased. After raising the chickens to maturity, he will sell them at the local market to earn his profit. Afterwards, more chicks will then be purchased to restart the cycle. Over time, Yelma plans to reinvest his profits to expand the size of his chicken coup in order to raise more chickens and to continually increase his earnings.

Yelma's Chicken Coup

PHPG's Juan Carlos, taking the opportunity to check out the chicken coup

Yelma has purchased 102 chicks which will eventually be sold in the local market


Made up of Ernesto, Rommel, Adolfo, and Geovanny, the loan group called the Hamaqueros specialize in the production of hand-made hammocks. Each member was given a loan of about $200, which was used by each of them to invest in their own hammock workshop, tools, and materials. The high-quality hammocks are sold in the Pulsera Project store in Granada. Each hammock takes about 8 hours to make.

Ernesto using his newly purchased hammock workshop

Adolfo preparing his materials

Rommel takes a break from making a hammock to create one of his popular bracelets