The community group “Emprendedoras 6 de abril” (Entrepreneurs April 6) is a new group with Diaconia, a non-profit organization in Paraguay that provides training programs and micro-credit to the poor.
Consisting of 14 members and a group loan amount of $1,633 USD, the women from “Emprendedoras 6 de abril” conduct business activities such as collecting, buying and selling material for recycling, selling clothes, sheets, towels, shoes, ice cream, and convenience items as well as doing seamstress work.
Maria Juana is the President of the community group. She heard about Diaconia through another woman from the local area, who was a member from a different community group. From the beginning, Juana was very interested and knew a lot of women in her life (including herself) that needed this. “They told me that we must be 15 women to open a group, and in a short time I [gathered a group of] women [that] I trusted”, expressed Juana.
Each member of the group receives an individual loan and when these individual loans are combined, they form one community loan. As a result, this group provides support to each other. In the case of a group guarantee, members of the group are responsible for paying back the loans of their fellow group members who default on their payment(s). This system helps create accountability for each community loan. Due to Juana’s previous leadership experience, she added, “I am taking care to include just the women who I trust and [that] I know will pay [back the loan]. As [the] President I need to care about it!”.
Today, Juana is living with her daughter’s family. She is dedicated to the recycling work; going to several settlements with her cart to collect bottles, plastic, cardboard. “I also buy material for recycling and for that I use the loan of Diaconia. I have a lot of [sales from] buying the material and selling it once a week to a greater recycling agency,” shares Juana.
The loan Juana applied for and received from Diaconia was $112 USD, which she used to buy plastic, aluminum, copper, brass, cardboard, bone, bags and iron. Her daughter, Carmen, also works in the recycling business and is a part of the same community group. Together, they are working their way out of physical and mental poverty and experiencing the freedom they were meant to have.
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