The Julia Burke Foundation has partnered once again with NamasteDirect (www.Namaste-Direct.org) and supported fifty women with microcredit loans. The primary purpose of the new program is to ensure that microcredit loans are being used to create or augment viable businesses owned by impoverished women. Each borrower is offered a comprehensive support system to encourage the success of the client and her business. Many women are operating businesses involving industries that they have been practicing since childhood – raising animals, growing vegetables, traditional weaving, and making tortillas – however, they have very little knowledge of what it takes to build a profitable business. The first ten women to enter the Namaste Business Development with Microcredit Program back in September have just completed their first loan cycle.
The Foundation has teamed up with TechnoServe to provide support to the Women's Committee (WC) of the El Oreganal community in Zacapa, Guatemala as they implement tilapia fish cultivation in land-based ponds. Not only will the harvest bring healthy, protein-rich fish into their regular diets, it will also create jobs and income. In this region of Guatemala, women often receive little education, and their economic and social participation is severely limited. The introduction of education and marketable skills will do much to change this. Therefore, TechnoServe will train the WC in cultivation methods, as well as organizational and business skills. In addition, support from the Foundation will help to purchase essential equipment. As a result, the program will increase household incomes and decrease economically-motivated migration.
However, the ultimate accomplishment will lie outside the pond. The boost to the economy will empower local women to further improve living conditions for their families and community, and enable them to seek out new business ventures.
For more information, visit www.TechnoServe.org
The Foundation has funded a new pilot microcredit loan program that includes basic business education and vocational training to borrowers in Guatemala. Our partner organization NamasteDirect (www.Namaste-Direct.org) has implemented this new type of support program to better prepare borrowers to succeed with microcredit opportunities. The program is unique in that it establishes a solidarity group, typically composed of one hundred women. The solidarity group is then divided into trust banks of 10–20 women. The women are then given access to a support team consisting of a business advisor, a loan officer, and a vocational specialist. The intense involvement of the three person support team is designed to provide these women entrepreneurs the chance for a profitable business. The direct result of funding these microcredit loans have helped further NamasteDirect's mission of alleviating poverty in Mayan communities in Guatemala.
Our 2007 project in Guatemala, operated by NamasteDirect (www.Namaste-Direct.org) and the in-country partner, Edubanco/CARE (www.care.org) is funding loans to a new group of 100 women in the rural community of Motagua. This group is one of the first groups formed within the new "Times Five" Program, meaning that brand new borrowers' microloans will be funded through this grant for five years.