Now I am a more powerful woman!

Migdalia bakes breads to diversify her business

Doña Migdalia is a 51-year-old married mother of three from the community of Aldea del Mañana. Like many women in rural Nicaragua, she wanted to help support her family financially. So Migdalia decided to use her back garden area to plant fruit trees including mandarin, lime, orange, and guava, so she could sell the harvest in the local markets.  She also grows garden vegetables such as tomatoes, hot peppers, and sweet peppers.

To sell her produce, Doña Migdalia traveled to the Masaya market, which is about 50 miles from her community. However, since the produce she grows is relatively common in the region, she wasn’t able to sell them for very high prices.  When she went to the market, she incurred fees for transportation each way, as well as purchasing a midday meal while she was selling her produce.

I usually took a big basket of around 450 mandarins with me to the market, and I got paid 200 córdobas ($7.40) per basket.  From that money, I had still to pay my meal and the transportation fees for myself and each basket I took with me,” Migdalia shared.

Yolanda (L) issues a micro-loan to Migdalia (R)

Doña Migdalia says that before the training workshops, she had never thought about all the expenses that went into operating her business selling market vegetables, and she really didn’t know whether her business was operating at a profit or a loss. She had never factored her expenses into the income she earned from her sales to find out.

But after I became a member of the micro-credit program and got trained in business management, making a business plan, and basic bookkeeping among other skills developed, I realized that I was wrong and that I should change my strategy on selling my products.

Now, I add value to some of my products like the hot sauce I make from the hot peppers in my garden.  I plant the seed, harvest the pepper and then prepare it and bottle it to sell it for a better price. And now I sell the fruits and vegetables by unit in my own community instead of in bulk at the market. For example, now I sell each mandarin at 2 córdobas each ($ 0.07 each) and multiplying that by 450 per basket, I get 900 córdobas ($33.33) per basket instead of 200 córdobas ($7.40) per basket.

“It is better than what I was earning before I realized this issue, plus now I don’t have to pay any extra expenses for my meal and transportation to Masaya.  Even better, I can be home taking care of my house, children, husband and any other things like bottling and preparing the hot sauce [instead of traveling all day to Masaya].  Last batch I made 80 bottles of hot sauce, and sold them for 25 córdobas ($ 0.92) each bottle, so in total I earned 2,000 córdobas ($74.00) which is great income to keep.”

Doña Migdalia also shared that some days during the week, she bakes bread which is sold in her own community along with the rest of the other products she sells, so now she earns more profits and spends less money by selling locally. Plus, during the weekends, she has the time to help another lady to sell her products in the nearby Rivas market.

The lady pays me 200 córdobas ($7.40) every time I go with her, plus she covers the transportations fees and meal, which is great for me because I am earning extra money to keep supporting my family needs, and am also using that income to re-invest in my business by purchasing and planting more fruits trees to have more varieties of fruits.

Doña Migdalia is really thankful with Self-Help International because the training helped her to learn new skills and manage in a better way her business. “Thank you for give me the change of being part of you and become a more powerful woman,” she said. “I am really happy to be part of your team and I hope to keep growing with your program.”