WISE is designed for women emerging successfully from microfinance lending programs with potential for further growth. Through the WISE initiative, Oxfam serves in traditional role of supporting collaborations between private sector, nonprofit, and government leaders to work in partnership for the advancement of positive social change—in this case, around women’s economic rights in Guatemala.
The WISE (Women in Small Enterprise) team from the PSD (Private Sector Department) was excited to successfully host a conference on 29th September 2016 in the Boston office where investors of the WISE program gathered along with the Oxfam team.
New Partnership with COOPSAMA
The new financial partner for this program was introduced in the conference. New partner COOPSAMA’s general manager Mr. Emilio Garcia was present in the conference. COOPSAMA and Oxfam both will examine the loan applications from women entrepreneurs and will take selection and rejection decisions separately. Only those applications will be approved which are approved both by COOPSAMA and Oxfam. COOPSAMA’s agreement with Oxfam are for providing 50% WISE guarantee coverage, 12-48 month terms, Interest rates at least 10% below normal rates, No more than 100% guarantee coverage required from entrepreneur. WISE criteria look for 1 year in business, $1-$50K loan range, Gender analysis, Decision-making authority.
COOPSAMA is taking care of the marketing and community reach-out side. They are taking different measures for branding and marketing like texting potential entrepreneurs, making public announcements on vans, stalls in fairs, bill-boards, banners etc. So far WISE and COOPSAMA have approved 13 loans from 26 applications so far.
Training and Capacity building
It was found that besides capital for business the women entrepreneurs also face barriers for not having basic financial literacy, lack of household support and gender biases in the market. The initiative therefore aims to provide training support with the support of a training partner MOJACAR. The trainings include visits to business, one-on-one coaching, VAW (Violence against Women) + Women’s empowerment training, Adapted methodology and curriculum to entrepreneur.
The team met after the conference day to take the opportunity to take some important future decisions in the presence of Mr. Emilio. The team is super excited to receive more loan applications from more women entrepreneurs which will be examined by COOPSAMA and Oxfam. Things are really looking up. The partnership with COOPSAMA is optimistic and, since August, the team has been approving an average of 2 loans a week in the original target range of $5k - $50k. The team has exceeded the funds outstanding that we have in Guatemala and are doing another capital call now.
Marisol C - Pharmacy owner
Marisol is a married woman of age 25 and has 3 young children. She and her family live in Alta Verapaz. She and her husband dedicate themselves to running a pharmacy in town. Marisol performs the administrative and management aspects of the business while her husband provides attention, services, and advice to people in need of a health professional. Her husband is a trained nurse and is sought after in town for his extensive knowledge and good services. The pharmacy is equipped with a small room where he sees patients. They have done well with their pharmacy and have been able to build a house and buy other properties. Marisol is very enthusiastic about the opportunity to receive training through COOPSAMA and expressed a desire to be a better business manager.
Her loan request was for expanding pharmacy inventory.
Lesvia A – Transportation business
Lesvia is 36 years old and engages in a number of different economic activities in the town of Sayaxché, Petén. She owns a pickup truck that she uses to provide transportation between Sayaxché and another village, Aldea las Pozas. She derives the largest profit margin from the latter.
Lesvia’s pickup truck provides municipally approved transportation services between two villages. Her pick up makes 3 trips per day. Sayaxché is in a geographically advantageous location as it connects the Verapaces to Petén, both by land and by ferry. There is a high volume of transit between these two regions on a daily basis and the only transportation for these people is the private bus owners such as the applicant.Her loan request was for the purchase of a minibus.
Photo: Ilene Perlman/Oxfam America