Maralexia Takes a Leap of Faith with a New Oven

By Yolanda Fletes – Micro-Credit Program Officer


Maralexia and her new oven.

Maralexia is an entrepreneur and root vegetable producer from La Venada, a community situated 28 kilometers (17 miles) from San Carlos. Maralexia and her husband have two young children, and her husband is a small-holder farmer who isn’t able to earn enough to cover their household expenses.

One day, a local community leader invited Maralexia to a Self-Help International micro-credit training. Maralexia was fascinated by the improved ovens that Self-Help was installing in the home of her farming neighbor, Antolin. Maralexia and her neighbor and Self-Help beneficiary, Berta, were curious about the concept of making an oven with a barrel. They had many questions and concerns, but their doubts were alleviated once they participated in Self-Help’s training on the new ovens. 

Maralexia and Berta learned how the improved ovens operate, and they were very impressed by how much time and firewood the ovens could save. Maralexia decided she wanted to install an improved oven in her home, too.

Self-Help worked with Maralexia to install the oven, and a week after its installation, Maralexia began increasing production of her baked goods and promoting them. With the new oven, she was able to bake twice a week, increasing production of her sweet bread, simple breads, empanadas, and corn flour buns. She also attended the Self-Help seminar on Baking and Bakeries at Self-Help’s training center in Quinta Lidia, then she applied the knowledge she learned in that session to her business. 

Prior to working with Self-Help, Maralexia wasn’t sure how much her business was earning. Self-Help’s training helped her analyze her business’ income and realize that she was not earning a profit. Maralexia had always wanted to incorporate crafting into her business, but she couldn’t because she lacked the financial resources. 

Maralexia’s flower crafts.

Maralexia received an initial $400 loan from Self-Help, but she wasn’t sure how to use it to increase her earnings. Thankfully, Self-Help’s training showed her how to do a cost analysis of her crafts, which include flower crowns she makes for for Nicaragua’s holiday on Nov. 2nd, Dia de los Fieles Difuntos (Day of the Faithful Dead). In analyzing the cost of materials and her own labor, Maralexia was able to appropriately price her flower crowns based on size, material, and labor costs. Now, Maralexia keeps track of her income and expenses, and she realizes that her business has become very successful within her community.

Maralexia’s products are in high demand, and she is very happy about her business’ success. She is very thankful to the people who helped her dreams come to fruition. Her dream is to have a small family business that generates work to help her family and community members. With her profits, she plans to purchase more supplies to make vases. She was already commissioned to make 1,000 crowns and 300 vases. She is so happy that her contributions to her household are improving the living conditions of her family.

Maralexia thanks all the donors taking the time to help Nicaraguan women who want to start or strengthen their businesses. A lack of financial resources means that many Nicaraguan women cannot achieve their dreams. That’s why Maralexia urges donors to continue to support the program so that they can see women’s dreams come true through the low-interest loans that help their businesses grow.