Monday, July 27, 2015

Visit from PHPG

Guest Post from Rebecca Schick, Intern at Soluciones Comunitarias, Summer 2011    

I think I can speak for everyone when I say it was nothing short of a pleasure to hear from Berly Cordero today. We, a group of eight student interns working with Soluciones Comunitarias, were all ears and eyes when learning about the interest-free microfinance loans that Berly administers to local entrepreneurs and business owners in Matagalpa, just twenty minutes away from our home base in San Ramon. Soluciones Comunitarias is an organization that strives to empower entrepreneurs and communities through offering consulting services and access to products such as solar lamps, water filters and eye glasses to improve lives in rural Guatemala and Nicaragua. Our group of eight is currently working on a Financial Literacy and Inclusion project in Norther Nicaragua, so we were naturally enthused to talk finances. Berly shared with us an article that disregarded Microfinance as a sustainable method to support individuals affected by poverty. Although there are countless cases that hold up this argument, there are environments where microfinance can prove to be useful. We discussed with Berly the benefits of eliminating interest, which diminishes the risk of drowning in a cycle of debt. We immensely enjoyed and appreciated the words of wisdom about the culture of finance in rural, developing communities. The insights gained from this discussion will travel with us as we carry out our project and begin working directly with community members. Thanks to all and be sure to check out People Helping People Global, this awesome organization that does microfinance right!

Monday, July 20, 2015


St John's University GLOBE Student Fellow, Chinyere Ukaegbu shares her thoughts after visiting PHPG in Matagalpa.

Today's adventure was especially gratifying (and that's an understatement). We met with an amazing non-profit called People Helping People Global. Though they have a couple of locations where they operate here in Nicaragua, we visited their base in Matagalpa. Before getting into the intricacies of the visit, let me begin by offering the cultural scene of Matagalpa. Lined by beautifully painted edifices, Matagalpa stands as this magical, mountainous town who's hilly ups and downs are similar to Montparnasse in Paris. People with joy in their eyes were sprinkled across the streets. Everyone from school girls to men buying food stuffs from pulperias said hola to us as we smiled. But unlike Paris, I felt a strong sense of community in Matagalpa.

We met with two representatives from PHPG: Berly and Martha. From our conversation, we learned a great deal about their organization and even developed some ideas for GLOBE based on what we heard. They explained to us that they give micro loans out with 0% interest because they are all about helping the people (hence their name). I paralleled this with GLOBE because we have very low interest rates and the interest we do collect goes back into helping the communities in which we serve. They also explained to us some of their methods, like checking receipts of borrowers for accountability, that could be used by GLOBE. But the most fascinating tactic they used was their training programs. They provided business training and psychological training (I.e. Counseling). This was especially important because it shows the holistic approach helping a community help themselves. Perhaps GLOBE could provide training and even incentives our borrowers to train other borrowers once they master their successful businesses.

Speaking of businesses, it was also a joy to visit the borrowers from PHPG and see them breaking the cycle of poverty. One borrower, 
Irene, stood out. She makes and sells tortillas (that are delicious might I add) and the loan that PHPG provided allowed her to expand by employing a helper. Now the over 500 tortillas that she makes on a interesting makeshift, firewood stove become a little less of a burden. It was a joy speaking with her and learning how she make the tortillas. I was at awe at how hard she worked. Waking up at 3 in the morning daily to start her work, she was the epitome of hard work and dedication. It made me reflect on my life and how much I have compared to her one room home filled with 5 children. Humbled, I smiled as she stood strong and proud of the tortillas she handed is to eat. 

Until next time,

Chinyere U

This blog was originally posted on GLOBE Student Fellow's site, here.