From Doubt to Determination: Nancy’s Story

Nancy with some of her clothes she sells

Nancy is 28 years old and lives with her husband in Ochomogo, Nicaragua. Through some friends, Nancy found out about Self-Help International’s micro-credit program. Nancy, skeptical at the idea of the program, decided to simply attend a meeting. She had no idea how it would impact her life.

¨I was invited by some friends who were already members of the micro-credit program to attend one meeting and listen,” Nancy said. “Oh, I had my doubts for a minute, but then I said, ‘Well, there’s nothing to lose. I can go just to listen and see if it’s really interesting.”

Something happened that Nancy didn’t expect.

“I heard about all of the ways the women have benefited from the micro-credit program, and I fell in love with the program right away.  Excited and motivated, I went to back to my home and told my mom that I really liked what I learned at the micro-credit program meeting,” Nancy said.

Learning about Better Business Basics

Nancy and her mother, Teresa, wanted to join the micro-credit program and the following day attended their first training session. The topics that they could learn were interesting, Nancy explained. She and her mother wanted to learn how to manage a business. Personally, Nancy wanted to learn how to save money, how to improve the quality of her products, how to provide good customer service, and ultimately, how to grow her business.

Nancy explains some of the better business basics she’s learned

Nancy and Teresa had a business selling used clothes, but they weren’t able to pursue it regularly due to lack of money. After Nancy joined the micro-credit program, she was given her first loan. Nancy and her mother used the money to purchase more and better quality clothes.

Because Nancy and her mother didn’t have customers initially, they began selling their clothes in surrounding communities. With the profits they made, they invested in buying more clothes. They even decided to purchase clothes for children, as they recognized this need in their community.

Parting Ways

It has been a year since Nancy and her mother started working with Self-Help and received their micro-loan. When Nancy moved away with her husband, she and her mom had to divide their business. Fortunately for them, they are both able to continue selling clothes and keep the business alive in their own separate communities.

Daily Routine

The bag Nancy transports her clothes in

Every day, Nancy catches the bus at 7 a.m. and returns home at 5 p.m, except for Sundays when she goes to church. Nancy travels to communities such as Picapica, El Mancho, and El Jícaro, Nicaragua She carries her 50-lb bag of clothes wherever she goes, walking from house to house selling them.

“It’s not easy at all, but I’m confident that things will get better little by little,” Nancy explained. “I’m investing my profits to continue growing my business.”

Extending a Hand to Others

Nancy with members of her community

Nancy talked about a very poor family she met in the community of El Jícaro. She met a 47-year-old woman by the name of Martiza, who has a disability that confines her to a wheelchair. Basically, she lives  alone with her 6-month-old baby, as well as a few grandchildren. Nancy decided to help her by leaving some of the clothes she isn’t able to sell. This way, Martiza can try to sell them and earn a commission, and Nancy doesn’t have to carry them all home.

“I know that Mrs. Maritza will do her best to sell [the clothes] immediately, in order to make an income to cover some of her needs,” Nancy explained.

Reflecting on the Program

“I am really grateful, and I’m very happy with the micro-credit program,” Nancy said, “Through the training, I have been able to learn and apply my new knowledge to improve my business. It is growing and now I am able to purchase the best quality clothes in a variety of sizes, for men and women.”

Even though buying the clothes requires more money, Nancy doesn’t mind because “people really want to dress nicely.” She says she is able to sell her clothes more easily now compared to the lower-quality clothes she sold before.

Nancy couldn’t contain her enthusiasm as she spoke about her dreams. She is thinking bigger and beyond than when she first started the micro-credit program. She said she has thought about her retirement and has decided that she is going to use part of her profits to pay for retirement, since she hasn’t been able to get Social Security on her own. She said she will at least be able to pay a monthly rate to cover basic expenses when she does retire.

Moving Forward

A smiling Nancy, happy about her business

Nancy says perhaps there will be a time when she doesn’t have to walk door-to-door, and instead she will have a boutique in her home. Having her own boutique is a big dream of hers. She concluded:

“I want to thank all the good-hearted people who support the Nicaraguan women wanting to be entrepreneurs.”

Nancy demonstrates how far you can go when you have a dream, and how far you can go with that dream if you just take a leap of faith. Thanks for sharing your story with us, Nancy, and we wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors!