Tania Maricela Bobadilla Carcamo, 28, is from La Ceiba city. Eight years ago Tania settled down in Las Brisas where she still lives today. Tania followed her sister Maria Carcamo to Las Brisas, whom married a man from the town. For two years Tania lived with Maria and her husband. During that time, Tania worked at the nearby pool hall. Maria’s husband was the owner and he needed someone to help manage money and sell drinks. Tania learned how to budget, save money for the business and manage operations, all while serving drinks until late at night.
During her time at the pool hall, Tania met Nelson Discua. Nelson proved a gentlemen, he walked Tania from the pool hall to her house every night after work. They married and Tania moved in with Nelson and his family. Tania remembers those as uncomfortable times, “I didn’t get along with Nelsons mom very well.” Tania wanted to move out. Luckily, Maria’s neighbor happened to move out. Tania and Nelson moved into the new home, it was an improvement but Tania was not satisfied. The land belonged to Marias brother in law. They didn’t have to pay rent but they couldn’t stay there forever.
La Ceiba met Tania in 2010. At the time, Maria was already working with La Ceiba. Maria explained to Tania how La Ceiba loans worked but Tania remained skeptical, “I thought it was propaganda of some kind.” But, Maria and another good friend, Suyapa Santamaria, convinced Tania that La Ceiba loans were real. Tania reluctantly accepted her first loan of L 575 ($28.75).
With money from the loan, Tania invested in silver with the intention of selling to residents in her area. Her operation was mobile, she went house to house and over time she developed a strong client base. Additionally, she set up a credit system of her own. Tania allowed clients to pay for her silver in parts. That is, they paid for some of the silver at the point of sale, and paid the rest in monthly installments for two months. This system worked well for Tania because, as she recognized, it gave clients a flexible method of payment where they might not be able to pay large sums all at once. Tania recognized other benefits. She never had worrisome amounts of cash at the house and if sales were slow the next month, she could rely on payments due from the previous month to cover costs.
In less than a year Tania received and paid five loans and worked her way up to a loan of L 2,500 ($125). As her loans grew, so did her income.
Tania’s plans changed a few months ago when a family member left the country. The family member left behind two businesses that were unmanned and in bad shape. Tania, along with her mom and two sisters, jumped at the opportunity. The family could benefit from a group endeavor where everyone involved received a steady income. So, Tania left the silver business and prepared herself for the new challenge. The two businesses were a chicken restaurant, and a food stand at the local school.
Tania’s mom is the boss, everyone works equal hours, and everyone splits the profits evenly. After three months on the job, sales have increased. Additionally, Tania increased her savings and covered all her home expenses.
Tania estimates that the food stand makes between L 2,000-2,500 ($100-125) a day while the chicken restaurant makes L 8,000 ($400) a weekend. However, their success is not without its challenges. Two weeks ago the food stand was robbed. One morning, Tania’s mom opened the stand only to find the door broken open and their products were gone. They had nothing to sell that day. Tania happened to be eligible for a L 5,000 loan with La Ceiba. The loan was large enough to replenish most of the inventory and Tania paid back the loan ahead of time the next week.
With her new income, Tania and Nelson, who works in a factory, are able to take a step towards Tania’s dream. Together, the couple saved enough money for a down payment on a plot of land. The sight is nearby in the neighboring town of Primero de Enero. They are paying what is left in installments and are on schedule to finish the payments by February of 2014.
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(Originally posted to laceibamfi.org on September 20th, 2013)