Tiny Loans, Tremendous Returns: Tales from the Microlending Frontier
Thursday, March 8, 2012
Sometimes, small gestures can make huge differences in people’s lives and livelihoods. That’s the premise — and the power — of microlending.
For proof, one need look no further than the stories of Marcia and Karen, two entrepreneurs in Costa Rica. They’ve both been given a leg up from Grameen Trust and Whole Foods Market’s (WFM) Whole Planet Foundation.
If you’re a Whole Foods shopper, you may have heard the buzz about its Whole Planet Foundation. The grocer recently launched its 2012 Prosperity Campaign, in which it is raising funds to help women like Marcia and Karen expand their businesses and improve their well-being.
Baking up a better life for $200
In her Costa Rican community, Marcia is renowned as “the best baker in town.” But when some of her baking equipment broke, her home-based business — and the much-needed income it provided — was in jeopardy.
That’s where Grameen Trust, which provides microloans to low-income entrepreneurs around the globe, came in.
The first loan Marcia received from Grameen Trust in Costa Rica was for $200 — a figure that many American businesspeople would view as “chump change.” But that tiny loan made a world of difference, helping Marcia buy a new mixer and get her baked goods back in the oven and back on the market.
With the help of her daughter, Marcia sells cakes like the one pictured, as well as many other tasty baked treats. The business is thriving: Marcia’s sales have quadrupled in the last three years. She supports her family on the earnings from her bakery; and her health issues mean that her ability to work from her home is a real lifesaver.