Sunday, June 27, 2010

Banco Esperanza

By Jaime Galiana (SMBA '11)

Banco Esperanza is a NGO that provides microfinance services to impoverished communities. Their philosophy rests in five components: Microcredit, Business training, Savings, Insurance, and group-lending. We visited their offices in Barrio Los Guaricanos, where they explained their principles, operations, and gave us an overview of their reach. After that, we attended one of the business training meetings. While it was taking place I was fortunate enough to strike up a conversation with Yundelia. That conversation is--without a doubt--one of the most eye-opening experiences of my life. Yundelia was born poor in the heart of the Dominican Republic and later moved to Santo Domingo and got married. She had 3 kids and 5 grandsons, but she couldn´t provide for them. Her husband worked in construction, but has been out of job for years. Her family survived on charity.

And then Esperanza came along. Yundelia was introduced by a neighbor and, after completing the training meetings, she was granted a RDP 2,000 loan, which she used to buy clothes. She started selling them at a stand in Avenida 27 de Febrero. Today she is about to repay her third loan, a RDP 12,000 loan this time. She owns the original stand in Avenida 27 de Febrero and another one which her husband runs. She has been able to feed her family every single day, she has saved money, she has introduced more than ten women to the bank, and is now thinking of laying concrete in her house floor. And her eyes shine so bright. She even told me, "It´s the best thing that has ever happened to my family, Jaime, the best."

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