Three Women Empowered to Build Their Business
El Alto, Bolivia — Since opening in 2010, the Bethesda Microloan Program has continued to grow and provide opportunities for the people of El Alto.
The program started with only 25 loans and has currently grown to provide more than 170 loans. This group-based loan program utilizes loan groups ranging from two to six individuals, allowing everyone to be accountable to one another and work together in following through with interest payments and returns. Loans are often given to small business owners to buy equipment to start their business, to farmers to purchase seeds for their garden for selling vegetables at the market, and to single mothers to purchase home appliances that they otherwise could not afford. This opportunity for the community helps them learn healthy financial practices and improve their quality of life.
One of the original loan groups in the program is the “Grupo de Amistad” or Friendship Group. Three women formed this group in 2010 to start a business selling cosmetic products. In 2013, they received an additional $700 loan to purchase supplies and materials to help further grow their business.
Esperanza Chuquimia, the director of the microloan program, administers the loans and follows up with each of the loan groups monthly. Through the program, she has watched the Friendship Group’s business grow along with their faith. When they joined the program, all three women did not believe in Christ or attend Bethesda church. Initially, their monthly meetings were strictly business, but have now developed into a time to share their personal lives with each other and Esperanza. Esperanza prays with them and the different struggles they face.
Through their relationship with Esperanza and the microloan program, these women are now regularly attending church with their families. They not only have Hope for Tomorrow through their small business, but a new-found Hope for Eternity through the church at Bethesda.