Saturday, December 13, 2014

Borrower Profile - Dalia

Meet Dalia, she's one of PHPG's loan recipients in Matagalpa. This month she received her second loan from PHPG.

Five years ago she started her small store in the city of Matagalpa. At first, she started selling pastries from her home. Dalia had been making cakes and pastries for many years, so this new store was a natural fit for her. She had only one display case for her goods. 

   In her third year in operations a large stationary store on her street closed down. People kept stopping by her store to ask about the stationary store and where they could get supplies.  Dalia saw an opportunity to expand her business. She started selling school supplies and paper goods to fill the void that the large stationary store had left. 

Before she had access to credit from PHPG, her sister lent her some money to widen the entrance to her store. Dalia has slowly added more display cases and new merchandise to her store. Now with her second PHPG loan, she plans to buy more merchandise for the coming school year (The school year starts in January, here in Nicaragua).  She is also planning to add an awning to her store so that she can move a few of her display cases outside, where they will be more visible to passing clients.

Dalia has two sons. The youngest, Alejandro, is in high school. The oldest, Kevin, is in his very first year of college and is studying Civil Engineering. Dalia works so that she can provide a better future for her sons. 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Workshop in Matagalpa!

Today we had our first workshop in Matagalpa! It was a great success! 16 women micro-entrepreneurs joined us to discuss how to improve their businesses. The goal was to think more about their businesses, their costs, profit, and operations. The women were all very active and the discussion was lively. 

Here's a taste of what we discussed:

* The importance of planning
* Steps for a feasibility study
* Analysis of expenses and income
* How to set prices & determine costs per unit.
* How to and why separate business expenses from personal expenses

Group leader Hazell at the board.

Iriz reading out-loud for us.

 Listening intently.


Martha at the board.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Visit to San Juanillo

Walking into the picturesque village of San Juanillo. Most of the 100 families in this remote part of Matagalpa are farmers.

On this visit we met with Yohanna, the leader of her loan group. Yohanna's family has been cultivating onions for the past twenty years on this land. Here she show's off the seedlings.

 PHPG's first loans in these area where a result of a partnership with EOS and ATDEL. EOS and ATDEL helped the women build ecological ovens. The women who received the oven use the ovens to bake for their own consumption and also to sell in town. In the picture below, Yohanna shows us her oven.  She is looking forward to making roast chicken during the upcoming holiday season.

Our Matagalpa loan officer, Martha, poses in front of the seedlings. Martha's family used to farm in the are Esquipula.Her knowledge about agriculture in Nicaragua has been indispensable to our work here.

Yohanna's group is almost ready for a new PHPG loan, which they would like to use for a new irrigation system. Their current system is labor intensive and requires digging trenches where water can flow around the fields.

Below is a picture of the irrigation system in the fields of Yohanna's neighbor. A system like this would be a big benefit to the group.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

What is that?

Credit:Pinterest user Sarita L.G.A.


Pejibayes or Pejivalles are a starchy fruit popular with locals in Matagalpa. The fruit comes from a palm tree and is a relative of the coconut.  The Pejibayes in Matagalpa taste starchy more like a vegetable than a fruit. There are different types and the taste varies depending on the type. The fruit is boiled with salt until the skin is soft enough to peel. Matagalpans love Pejibayes and you can find a woman selling them on nearly every street corner in the city. If you walk around the city you may be surprised to find that a few of those sellers are also PHPG clients!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Flooding in Malacatoya

The rainy season has been hard on the people of Malacatoya. On a recent visit we saw many houses flooded along the main road. 

The team, JC, Joe, and Berly. Behind us are rice paddies; Malacatoya produces most of the rice in consumed in Nicaragua.  A few of our customers work the land here. 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

A Visit to San Juan De Oriente

Two students from Roanoke college joined PHPG for social visits to our clients in San Juan De Oriente. Our clients, all artisans,  were proud teach us about their craft.

JC looks into a client's new oven. The oven was built with the help of a loan from PHPG. The oven isn't completed yet, it needs to be sealed. The final steps in the process will occur after the rainy season passes.

Brenda show's us how to turn. It's a special skill that takes 2 years to master. Only some of the artisans in San Juan De Oriente can turn.

She was just about to fire some pottery when we stopped by. She explains how the pottery will be fired for 8 hours and the oven must be carefully sealed during the process.

A closer look.

In his workshop, Darwin shows us  how designs are etched into the pottery.

A special thanks to Emma Webb for the photos!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Collection Day

Today we made the rounds with the PHPG team here in Granada. We split up into two teams. Juan Carlos, Joe, and Berly visited individual clients and Juan Carlos Jr. and Manuel different loan groups. We snapped a few pictures along the way.

                     A road in the community of Nueva Esperanza frequently traversed by PHPG.

                                          Juan Carlos and Berly going to visit one of PHPG's clients.

                 The team discusses what it takes to run a business in the local community.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Savings Program in El Diamante

It’s an exciting time to be a part of the PHPG team! We are currently working on several projects in addition to the rounds we make on Mondays and Fridays. One of the projects is a savings program for 24 of our clients in the community of El Diamante. This is something very beneficial given that most do not have access to banks. The program also helps the savings collective become more autonomous. 

We first introduced the concept of a savings program back in the month of June and we have made a great deal of progress. The PHPG team is looking to introduce the same project in other communities where we distribute loans in the near future. 

The main idea here is that in the future the community will take deposits and (after having saved up enough to begin lending) make loans to community members to support their businesses and to undertake projects to help improve daily living. This could include building a well, or funding a bakery in the community. These neighborhood projects are a nice improvement and a great way to advance living standards and quality of life.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Meet Martha, our new Matagalpa Loan Officer

A little while ago we told you about our Loan Officers who are working in Granada, and about Melo Lopez, who is one of our Loan Officers working in Matagalpa. Now, we have an additional member of the team working with us in Matagalpa.

So, meet Martha Carolina Diaz Meija! We first met Martha as a loan beneficiary, but she quickly showed a facility and attitude that suggested she would be a real asset if she were up for it. Fortunately, she is!
Former Regional Coordinator Eric with Martha
Martha was working as a small business operator selling sweets and other sundries around Matagalpa. The loan she received from PHPG was put to work by allowing her to buy her merchandise in greater quantities upfront, allowing the business to turn in a greater profit. She has two children, who are surely fortunate to have such a hard-working, industrious mother!

As we discussed previously, Melo is PHPG’s Loan Officer for the city of Matagalpa, meaning the clients who live and operate in the urban area itself. Martha, then, is our Loan Officer for those in the department of Matagalpa who live outside the city proper.
Martha will be working with our rural beneficiaries, such as those who live here in San Juanillo
This is an important position, of course: we at PHPG feel it is important that we actually go out to the communities we work with, and Martha is a very capable representative for us in that respect!

Martha, and all of our Nicaraguan staff, are treasured and important members of People Helping People Global. The majority of our Nicaraguan staff were former beneficiaries of our programs. This is something we’re proud of: it means that the people we work with were so happy with the relationship we developed that they wanted to help us continue doing what we’re doing. And naturally, we appreciate that we’re able to help empower these very talented individuals with a job that they can use to support themselves and their families!

It’s beautiful, really. PHPG helps people help themselves with interest-free loans, who then go on to join PHPG to help other people do the same. It’s exactly the kind of virtuous cycle we want to see in the fight against extreme poverty!