The History of Adelante


Results of the Storm: Hurricane Mitch

Hurricane Mitch ravaged Honduras in the fall of 1998. An American venture capitalist and philanthropist, Ed Cohen, watched CNN and was moved by the devastation and tragedy – not just the problems caused by the biggest Hurricane to hit the Caribbean in the last century, but the underlying lack of opportunity and infrastructure that seemed to plague Honduras, even before Hurricane Mitch.

At the same time, aerospace engineer Tony Stone was also watching the news and worrying. An American citizen, Tony lived on the North Coast of Honduras from first grade until he graduated from high school. His parents still lived in Honduras. He saw pictures from his hometown of La Ceiba, where a well-known maquiladora, or clothing factory, was swept down the Cangrejal River.

Ed and Tony met in January 1999 and started to talk about the possibilities for sustainable long-term change in Honduras. Taking a leave from work, Tony returned to Honduras and began an intensive self-education process regarding development work, particularly in Honduras. Four months later, Tony returned to Ed with three lessons learned:

  • In Honduras, giving things or money away did not lead to long-term change and may, in fact, lead to longer-term problems.
  • One development solution that did seem to lead to long-term improvement was microfinance – making small loans to poor people to allow them to become self-supporting entrepreneurs.
  • While there was a lot of development work going on in the bigger cities, the rural areas, where poverty is the greatest, were largely ignored.
Therefore, Tony and Ed decided to start an organization dedicated to loaning money rather than giving it away and committed to working in rural areas with the most desperately poor.

Creation of Adelante

By mid 1999, Adelante was born. Adelante is the Spanish word for forward, or progress, with the idea in mind to help the poor help themselves move forward. Adelante provides short-term small business loans to the poorest of the poor, rural, Honduran women, so they can invest in small businesses to earn income to support themselves and their families.

Changing Lives

On September 14, 2000, Adelante disbursed its first loans. From September 2000 to December 2011, Adelante has disbursed over 74,300 loans to 54,983 clients totaling over 9.3 million dollars. Adelante is changing lives, one loan at a time.

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