At En Via we strive to bring innovative social change to impoverished women through microfinancing and responsible tourism in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico. We work to provide small interest-free loans to women who traditionally have not had access to banking services such as credit, savings and insurance. In 2008 we started working with our first village, Teotitlan del Valle, with the objective of empowering women to lift themselves and their families out of poverty.
Our goal was to funnel some of the resources coming in from tourism to those in need, as well as educate tourists about the power of microfinance. There are a lot of microfinance institutions working to reach poor families in Mexico, but the average interest rate on micro-loans here is 70%. By tapping into the resources of tourism, we can provide loans at 0% interest, and make sure that our borrowers have a much better option. To this day 100% of our tour fees go to provide interest-free credit. In the last two years, we have been able to give out over 300 loans entirely funded by taking tourists out to see and meet the small business owners that we work with in the village. We also launched our first non-credit initiative one year ago, giving free English classes to women and children in Teotitlan. With our 600 tour alumni and a team of 10 volunteers, we are excited to continue this great work – reaching out into new towns, and expanding the services that we can provide to our borrowers.
Stay tuned for updates on our daily grind, latest buzz in micro-financing, and inspiring stories from our borrowers, tour alumni, and fantastic team of volunteers.