Graciela (Mexico)

More Than A Loan

More than 25 million people live in rural Mexico and 57 percent of them live in poverty. Nearly 30 percent live in extreme poverty. Where Graciela Saavedra lives, there is no social safety net to care for women in her situation; she is widowed and in fragile health. Her husband had no pension to leave her and wage-earning jobs are hard to come by, even for younger, stronger, more educated people.

But like millions of women around the world—women who know that self-help is the most important ingredient to survival—Graciela never bothered to wait for someone else to solve her problems. She started a business selling used clothes to her neighbors and community members.

Graciela had a series of self-enterprises as she entered womanhood. These tiny businesses continued through her motherhood and then into her widowhood. But for all her experience, she always seemed to make less than she needed to barely get by. She even tried to grow her business through microfinance from a local provider, but the credit alone wasn’t enough to change her circumstances.

GracielaThat changed when she joined a women’s group operated by one of Freedom from Hunger’s local partners in Mexico. This time, Graciela participated in Freedom from Hunger’s learning sessions about managing a business, learning to save, and planning for expansion.

Has this training actually made a difference? Graciela thinks back to her time with the other microfinance group. "The difference here is in the training. I was five years in the other organization and never received training. I always managed business by doing it—now I can manage better from what I have learned."

Graciela’s business has grown so much that she now travels to four nearby communities to sell clothes. She has learned to set up payment schedules with clients, and her training on providing good customer service has ensured that her clients are eager to repay on time and purchase more.

Graciela’s life has been transformed because of the support of caring people like you. Thank you!