Much of the important work underway in Outreach-affiliated communities takes shape over long stretches of quiet determination. The community-managed loan program established by farmers in La Leona might not lend itself to splashy photos, but its sustainability and long-term benefit to families’ household income level is certainly something to celebrate.
With facilitation from Outreach field teams and guidance from the community-led group in nearby El Llanito, residents of La Leona founded a program to furnish local farmers with low-interest agricultural loans, sparing 22 families from the burden of usurious interest rates and razor-thin profit margins offered by external lenders.
Since farmers in La Leona rent their land, they borrow against their future profits at the start of each planting season, and were previously forced to devote 30% of their income to repay loans. Their community-managed program cuts that figure nearly in half, while also giving group members experience in setting household budgets, managing their savings, examining cost/ benefit analysis models, empowering one another through inter-reliance and teamwork, and their own individual capacities to overcome the financial and societal barriers they face as people with limited resources.
“I can’t wait for meetings to start, and to ensure we comply with everything that must be done so that our community bank can move forward and be able to continue helping people.”
Upon her appointment as the group’s secretary at the beginning of 2019, Haydee [pictured above, in green shirt], a farmer and mother of two, “was scared, at first,” she said, “because I really didn’t know what I had to do.” With encouragement from superstar Outreach facilitator Luz Dania, Haydee did her best, and found she was more than suited to the job. “Here I am after almost a year in this position, and can say that I like to be helping and learning. Now, I can’t wait for the meetings [to start], and to [ensure we] comply with everything that must be done so that our community bank can move forward and be able to continue helping people.” These days, “apart from helping my husband, I am helping my whole community, too.”
Some of the most significant changes that result from Outreach-facilitated, community-led development take place in the heart, as members discover their own limitless capacity through their devotion to their neighbors and teammates’ success and security. As the loan program continues to benefit La Leona’s farmers and families in its second lending cycle, professional relationships become more personal, colleagues become friends, and their commitment to one another deepens and grows more entwined, forming the foundation for all the success to come.
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