Saturday, May 3, 2008

Bread Oven Nicaragua

The NICA Fund: Profiles of Nicaraguan Borrowers

The Nicaraguan Credit Alternatives Fund (NICA Fund) provides financing to support economic activities of Nicaraguans with little access to conventional commercial credit. The examples listed below demonstrate how access to loans can help low-income Nicaraguans achieve economic progress as productive contributors to their communities.

María Mercedes Díaz
Baker, Quilalí

About three kilometers outside of Quilalí, María Mercedes Díaz is stoking the coals of her baker’s oven. Every morning at three a.m., she sets to work in preparing, baking and supplying assorted baked goods, including breads, pastries, and rosquillas. By ten a.m., her goods have been shipped down the dirt road to loyal shops and customers in Quilalí.

María now has two full-time employees, in addition to the work done by her daughters. Her eldest daughter is married and lives across the street. María is passing along her baking and administrative skills, with the intention that she will inherit the business someday.

Through earnings from the bakery, María was able to improve her house, which is now a two-room concrete dwelling, with a corrugated steel roof and extended veranda. On the end of the veranda is her adobe oven, which her husband built by hand as the volume of the bakery grew. María has taken a succession of three loans from Cooperative April 20th, to which she attributes to the success of her business. Before taking loans, she was only able to stock small amounts of baking materials. “Now I am able to buy what I need,” she says. She purchases her inputs from the Coop’s market. Although María is working to produce as much bread as she can, she still sees unmet demand. She hopes to continue expanding her business and providing baked goods for the community.

Situated on a hillside, with a panoramic view of the Segovian mountains, María concedes that there are disadvantages to living some distance from town; however, she prefers the quiet of countryside. “It’s beautiful,” she says, “You can see the river.”

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