Words by Alice Bayer.
Claudia Martínez Martínez is originally from Santa María Guelacé, a tightly knit agricultural community with a population of just over 800 that lies in the Central Valleys region of Oaxaca. Together with her husband Bernardino she runs a plant nursery, and with the extra capital from En Vía loans has started selling cut flowers and fruit tree saplings to community members in Guelacé.
Due to Guelacé’s “usos y costumbres”, or customary law, under which ten community members are responsible for caring for the church for an entire year, Claudia already has more demand for her flowers than she can meet. Among many other duties, each of these ten people buys a fresh bouquet of flowers every week to decorate the church, so Claudia has planted 100 new rose bushes on her parents’ property to keep up with the high demand.
We visited Claudia on an En Vía microfinance tour, where tourists get a chance to meet face-to-face with inspiring women entrepreneurs and En Vía micro-loan borrowers. Tour donations are channelled directly into our microfinance and education programs.
Claudia is just one of over 300 women entrepreneurs currently taking part in En Vía’s microfinance program. In addition to receiving loans of between $80 and $300 USD, the women acquire free training in business management, and attend monthly courses on how to grow and improve their businesses, empowering them to better provide for themselves and their families.
In order to be eligible for a loan with En Vía, applicants must form a group of three. Claudia shares a group with Karen, who runs her own beauty salon, and Karen’s mother Leticia, who raises and sells chickens and runs a little corner store called Contraesquina.
Karen’s salon recently got a total makeover during En Vía’s latest Project Tour. During this immersive 5-day tour, tourists got a special glimpse into the lives of En Vía’s microloan borrowers while giving something back.
Joyce, who participated in this tour, told us: “By spending a day working in concert with a family where they live, I was able to see beneath the veneer that tourism offers and learn a lot more about their actual lives.”