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Limón is a Garífuna community located in the department of Colón, founded by our Garinagu ancestors in 1880. The community became a municipality on November 18, 1917, almost 100 years ago. This year, Limón was the location of the 216th anniversary commemorating the arrival of the Garinagu to Honduras. The activities lasted one week and were filled with a diverse array of events, including dances, traditional foods, cultural nights and a variety of trainings. 

This year Adelante participated for the first time in the celebrations of the last day, April 12. A parade began early in the morning, in which all the communities’ representatives participated in the march through the streets of Limón carrying banners and the important messages of the day. 

To add even more importance to the day, a council of the ministers headed by Honduras’ President Porfirio Lobo Sosa was carried out. The opportunity to have the national government’s cabinet present was achieved by the Garinagu after submitting several petitions. Topics including Health, Educations, Road Construction, Agriculture, Preservation of Culture and Conservation of Land prevailed among the petitions made by the Garinagu people to the government. Some of these petitions were approved immediately by the government.

Adelante was represented by Celso Batíz and Jaime Guerrero, both from the Tocoa Branch Office. They took the opportunity to promote Adelante’s work and the services that we offer as we look into expanding further into Garífuna communities. Although Adelante’s presence was not extensive, it was significant. We hope that we will be able to contribute to a greater extent during future celebrations. 

Adelante clients from within Garífuna communities were also found at the event. As Credit Officer for the Iriona Zone, Jaime serves over 40 women just within the community of Limón, and many others in the neighboring Garífuna communities. Both Jaime and Celso were pleased to enjoy the presence of several women they work with regularly as they all celebrated this important anniversary. The clients in attendance also came to celebrate the day and were appreciative knowing that Adelante had not forgotten about this date, so cherished by the Garífuna people.

After eight years of dedicated service as Credit Officer and Branch Office Supervisor, Nicolas Flores has now been promoted to Assistant Manager of Operations. He carries out his new responsibilities while maintaining his role as La Ceiba Branch Supervisor. Nicolas’ new position frees up Adelante Manager of Operations Oscar Mejía to dedicate himself to the future vision of the organization and product development. The new responsibilities assigned to both Nicolas and Oscar is reflective of their dedication to Adelante and a combined 16 years of experience working at Adelante. 

Adelante is also proud to have promoted two Credit Officers to Branch Office Supervisor within their respective branches. Rolando Gomez worked as a Credit Officer for 2 years in the Choloma zone and has demonstrated his aptitude to lead the El Progreso Branch Office and oversee the work of its four Credit Officers. Celso Batiz similarly left his position as Credit Officer after 5 years within the Trujillo zone of the Tocoa Branch Office. In Tocoa he is managing Adelante’s strongest branch office and is now overseeing the opening of a new zone within the branch to bring the branch’s total to five Credit Officers. 

Gabriela Puerto’s hard work over two years while working toward her Masters degree in Finance paid off in August of 2012 when she was promoted from Accountant to Finance Director. Gabriela’s new position gives her greater responsibility in making projections and support Adelante’s management staff in our long term vision. Finally, in an effort to revitalize fundraising and focus more on donor outreach both within Honduras and internationally, Adelante hired Gina Cappuccitti as International Development Coordinator. Gina has a BA degree in International Relations, a passion for microfinance and previously worked and studied in Ecuador before moving to Honduras in August.

Walking back to Tulia’s house with her after an assembly in Cortés, she explained to me, “My sister used to be a client and decided that she no longer needed loans to grow her business but she likes Adelante’s work so when she left, she had me take her place.” Tulia is the mother of eight, with three children still living at home along with one grandson. Tulia uses Adelante loans to invest in making tamales. Before, she only had enough resources to produce 50 tamales to sell on Fridays and Saturdays. Thanks to Adelante loans, she now makes three times as much! Unfortunately for her customers, she still can’t meet the high demand—before Saturday night rolls around, she’s already sold out and refers her hungry neighbors to another Adelante client who sells tamales in another part of the community.

Word of mouth is not the only way that women become Adelante clients—Credit Officers play an important part in identifying women who would be able to start or expand small businesses in rural reas. On a recent visit with Serapia, she explained that her involvement with Adelante began when a Credit Officer had come to visit her at her home and business to invite her to join a new solidarity group and assembly. Other times, Credit Officers will find new clients at small corner stores and food stalls that they frequent. After I had lunch with one Credit Officer at the same food stand he eats at between his assemblies in the area, the woman who runs the stand by herself approached him with questions about Adelante’s program. Credit Officers know the women they work with well, building trust between the organization and our clients to ensure repayment. Although their goals include opening new assemblies and reaching more women, these goals are pursued while keeping in mind the importance of being able to independently manage one’s own loan pool


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“You know, other institutions won’t lend to a woman like her.” La Ceiba Agency and Northern Zone Supervisor Nicolas made this statement as we drove away from Benilda’s home in rural Atlántida. He explained that at 67 years old and living under extreme poverty, she is not an attractive client for other microfinance institutions operating in Honduras. Off the shoulder of an unpaved road, Benilda, recently widowed, lives with her granddaughter, her granddaughter´s husband and their daughter in a two-room shack with walls made from wooden planks, a packed dirt floor and an aluminum roof. As a former Credit Officer for the zone before becoming Supervisor, Nicolas has known her for many years and assures me that she is in fact, “one of the hardest working women” that he knows.

Here she works every day from her sewing machine, making clothing and doing basic repairs to provide for her family. The growth in Benilda’s earnings since she began taking loans from Adelante has been modest, but between her sewing business and the corn and bean crops growing behind her home she was able to purchase the wood to build the walls of her home. Before, the walls were a patchwork of metal and wood scraps.  In order to assist Benilda in improving her house for the benefit of her granddaughter and great-granddaughter, she is being considered as a candidate for a Home Improvement Loan. This will allow her to install a cement floor that will provide a more sanitary environment for the family and especially her great-granddaughter as she continues to grow.

While the changes made in Benilda’s life are gradual, Adelante is committed to maintaining our commitment to the poorest of the poor rather than allowing for mission drift that often occurs among microfinance institutions. In order to effect positive change while sustaining our operations we must keep in mind the client’s ability to pay. While a Home Improvement Loan made to Benilda will not be large, it will be manageable for her to make small steps in advancing her family’s quality of life. Adelante’s mission is to empower the poorest of the poor in Honduras to leave poverty behind by investing in small businesses. With every payment made by Benilda and her solidarity group, the money returns to Adelante’s loan pool to be lent out to other Honduran women in need of loans. With over 97% repayment, our non-profit model is sustained by our clients’ success in managing their businesses and loans while improving their living standards.

Adelante's microfinance-education program is focused on women, those most capable of affecting positive change in the lives of Honduran youth. With a high national fertility rate, and a potentially higher rate among our clients who come from rural poor areas of the country, our loans go farther than changing the lives of women. As Adelante entrepreneurs, these women can make a living and develop the business management skills needed to run their business and help pull their families out of poverty. This December we would like to introduce you to some of the children of our clients. 

Lisa is the 6 year old daughter of Karina and has three siblings between 7 and 11 years old. She goes to school at the local kindergarten in the department of La Paz. Lisa loves going to school and enjoys running around with other kids her age. Her mom cares of her and her siblings during the day while she attends to her small business selling bread from their home. Karina's job takes economic pressure off her husband who must travel once a month to work in the bus terminal of another city a few hours away. 

 

 

 

Angela is the 17 year old daughter of a long time client also from La Paz. As her mom has gotten older, it has become more difficult for her to get around so Angela has taken the role of representing her mother at assembly meetings. Angela just finished her last year of high school this past month and plans to go on to study in a university in Comayagua. There she hopes to study biology. Although she enjoys supporting her mother's business, she aspires to work in medicine and intends to pursue this career after her studies. 

 

 

 


Ashley is the granddaughter of María Juana, a client from Atlántida. Her mother is also a new Adelante client but María Juana has been with us for for a couple years. Ashley lives with her mother and grandparents, where they all work together to create a better life for each other. Ashley is five years old and will be soon starting school. With her mother and grandmother's earnings, Ashley will be able to receive a good education and fulfill her own dreams when she gets older. 

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