Empowered Women Empower Women

About 32 miles by motorcycle from Self-Help’s Nicaragua office, lies a small and vibrant community called Las Azucenas. In a small and quiet neighborhood, accessed only by walking down a mud-covered and gravely path, lives a young woman with an idea way ahead of her time. Her name is Jering. At the age of 17, not even having finished high school yet, she sells Avon products and cosmetics after school hours and during the weekends. When she’s not doing homework, Jering is constructing ways to grow her new business of selling clothing with a loan through Self-Help’s micro-credit program.

By inquiring and conversing with other women, she has taught herself how to be successful in the clothing business. In order to start selling stylish clothes, she has to first take a bus from her small community to the bus terminal in San Carlos (30 minutes away). She then takes a bus to Managua (over 8 hours) to select the clothing. Once she arrives by bus, she has to pay for a taxi to take her to the chain of stores located in the heart of the city to go shopping. If she does not take the 2am bus to get back to her home in San Carlos, she will have to find a place to spend the night in Managua until there is another bus the following morning.

Although she is capable of receiving a hefty profit with this business, transportation is extremely costly. The price for a one-way bus ticket is 150 Córdobas ($5), and a taxi is roughly 120 Córdobas each way ($4). She will have to spend 500 – 600 Córdobas ($18 – $20 dollars) in transportation costs alone for her trip. Because of your financial support, she will be able to make that first initial voyage to Managua. With the money she will receive from selling clothes, she will be able to pay her loan back quickly and increase production to match the current demand in communities.

You may be wondering where Jering learned to have such an ambitious and innovative nature. I was able to find that answer with just a quick visit to her home. The family owns an outdoor oven that not only serves as a way to bake, but also as a mechanism to dry and store firewood during the rainy seasons, and as a personal clothing and shoe dryer.

Yes, you read that right:
a shoe dryer.
The family does a lot with very little.

Instead of trying to use her earnings towards materialistic items, ering is saving all of her money for her education. Having a father who works tediously as a farmer, and a mother who walks the entire town twice a week to sell baked goods, she wants to obtain a bachelor’s degree. She admires her parents’ strength, and sees education as a new path forward out of such backbreaking work.

Living with her two parents, two sisters, and an older brother, Jering assists her family with household chores and tends to the animals in their backyard. Like Jering, her mother is a beneficiary of Self-Help’s micro-credit program. Her mother taught her how to sell cosmetics and earns a sufficient salary selling sweet bread in order to purchase school uniforms and supplies for her other children.

Empowered women empower women.

Jering and her mother are prime examples of the magnitude of the effects of Self-Help’s mission. Self-Help lends a hand to help women and their families get on their feet and start their dream businesses. The women learn important and necessary business skills through several trainings from Self-Help staff. Workshops are also provided to build women’s self-esteem. Most importantly, women learn sustainable practices to ensure the success of their business. The success of this training speaks for itself—Self-Help’s micro-credit program has a repayment rate of almost 90% with the women’s first loan and the program has been thriving since 2011.

Fifty dollars doesn’t just buy a few bus tickets. It provides hope. It provides a way to lift these families out of poverty so that their children will not have to choose between healthy meals and clean uniforms. Jering is the future of women in Nicaragua. She inspires young girls and proves that girls are never too young to start their dreams.

by Jacqueline Steinkamp, Development & Communications Officer