Nery’s Struggle with Her Business and Her Loans
By Santiago Sueiro, co-Chair of La Ceiba MFI
Nery has been a La Ceiba client for over two years. She is the owner of a pulperia (convenience store) which she runs out of her home in Villa Soleada, Honduras. Over the last two years Nery and her business have struggled. An unexpected illness, the medical costs that it brought, shocks to her extended family, and increased competition from new convenient stores in the area, have all contributed to her struggles.
What was once one of the strongest pulperias in the community, is now undergoing a difficult transition. Nery has moved away from the traditional pulperia model. Instead of selling the full menu of basic foods and drinks, now Nery sells only the most basic products (water, soda, and bread). She supplemented that decision by adding new products: clothes and shoes.
We talked to Nery about her experience with loans and microfinance institutions. We asked her why she uses loans, what value the loans add to her business and well-being, and what she wishes could be different about loan services and products.
I’ve had a good experience overall. Some institutions lend the amounts that I need, but they put too much pressure on me to pay and they aren’t interested in anything except my repayment. Sometimes I think institutions charge too much for their loans, too many fees, but using loans has allowed me to learn a lot.
I learn how to manage my money, invest in my business, and grow my business. The loans allow me to invest in my own ideas and I can do so with confidence. I know that sometimes the investment will go wrong, some investments produce more returns than others, and sometimes you don’t get any return from your loan.
I believe the purpose is to live without debt. It is better not to have any debt and feel the pressure to pay it back. That way you are free. The rich person isn’t necessarily happy because they work hard and they have to pay a lot of debt from their loans.
Where the value is for me is in making the loan work for you. When you have the desire to make it work, start your business, and make money, that is when the loan becomes meaningful.
But I know that the loan doesn’t solve everything. It helps with business. And I am glad that I have mine because I feel free and independent. I don’t take orders from anyone. I like to be independent and flexible. But it’s difficult and complicated.