Pro Mujer: Pro Women Entrepreneurs

What can you do with $40?

Depending on the restaurant, $40 might buy you dinner for two. For most cars, that’s about the price of a tank of gas. Or you could probably pick up two or three books at your local bookstore.

How about using $40 to help fund your small business?

Pro Mujer in Action

Three years ago, that’s exactly what Linda Flores did when she received her first loan from Pro Mujer. A tortilla maker by trade and circumstance, Linda was making 300 tortillas each day which had to both feed and support her family. She used the $40 to buy corn flour in bulk and attended Pro Mujer trainings to learn how to make smart business decisions. Today, Linda makes over 1,500 tortillas each day. Her earnings have helped her expand and improve upon her house.

Edda is another example of what $40 can do. Before joining Pro Mujer, Edda’s family lacked basic necessities and never had enough to eat. They couldn’t afford beds, so the family slept on mats on the dirt floor. Edda used loans from Pro Mujer to invest in her pottery business. She started small, using her first $40 loan to buy materials. After paying that back, Edda used larger loans to purchase a kiln and build a storage shed. She used a housing loan to build a larger house for her family and education loans to send her three children to school. A true entrepreneur at heart, Edda then invested in a horse and cart, which she rents out to other families to use for hauling wood.

For the past 20 years, Pro Mujer has helped turn women like Linda and Edda into entrepreneurs by providing them with the tools, resources, and capital they need to build livelihoods for themselves and their families.

How Pro Mujer Works

Pro Mujer logoPro Mujer, which means “pro woman” in Spanish, was formed in Bolivia in 1990 by two female educators – one an American school teacher, the other a Bolivian professor. Believing that education was the key to women’s economic and social wellbeing, the two began providing rural women with empowerment training, financial planning assistance and childhood education. These trainings formed the basis of integrated package of services that includes micro-loans, financial and human services and healthcare. The model’s success led to the expansion of the program to Nicaragua, Peru, Mexico and Argentina.

Pro Mujer is based on a system of microfinance. Because women in many Latin American countries cannot gain access to traditional banking institutions, Pro Mujer helps provide funding to communal banks, each led by groups of 20-30 local women entrepreneurs. The bank members, or clients, support one other by providing a solidarity guarantee, meaning if one client cannot make their loan payment, the group as a whole pitches in to cover it. The banks also offer other financial services to women, allowing them to open savings accounts – a first for many – with a portion of their profits. In order to help them be successful as entrepreneurs, Pro Mujer offers business development training in the basics of running a small business.

The loan amounts start small, usually in the $40 – $50 range, and must be paid back in four to six months. Prompt repayment of loans qualifies clients for larger loans, up to $1,500. Pro Mujer estimates the average current loan balance to be just under $300.

How You Can Help

Since 1990, Pro Mujer has distributed nearly $750 million in small loans. They currently serve over 200,000 clients which affects over 1 million in extended family members.

You can become a Pro Mujer Partner by pledging a monthly gift in any amount over $10. Pro Mujer also offers opportunities to investors through their Loan Fund.

Read more about Pro Mujer on Facebook and Twitter or check out their videos on YouTube.

Image Credit: Pro Mujer

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