Tell Me Why . . .

A Monthly Blog by Founder Bob Graham

 I write about helping low-income businesswomen in Guatemala to make more money and create prosperity. Join me as I explore topics about leveling the playing field for women in business. What works? What doesn’t? Why is investing in women just about the best investment on the planet?



This month’s blog is HOW HIGH IS UP – PART TWO

In my last post titled “How High is Up?” I promised to use our new Qlik Sense analytics tool to do a deep data dive and examine the characteristics of the women who do best in our business development program. I approached the question by looking at the records of 2,151 successful clients and running the numbers on three groups: (1) All clients. (2) The 100 clients who increased their monthly profits most in dollars. (3) The 100 clients who increased their monthly profits most by percentage.

Monthly Profit, Beginning $247 $343 $ 60
Monthly Profit, Ending $515 $1,682 $836
Monthly Profit Increase $268 $1,339 $776
Percentage Gained in Profits 106% 390% 1,293%


What do these numbers tell us?

With an average beginning profit of $247, the 2,151 clients began the Namaste Creating Prosperity Program as members of the Guatemalan lower class in a category called the “Working Poor.” (To give some context, many farm workers make even less, about $120 a month.) Our clients received an average of 13 months of training in the program and doubled their profits to $515 a month or $6,200 annually. This brings them up to the cusp of the middle class ( $7,500 – $15,000 a year). These are fine results.

The 100 women with the highest dollar increase in net profit entered the program making $343 per month – about $100 better off than the all-client average. With Namaste, they built their sales and profits, hired employees, and inspired their family, friends, and community. With their annual incomes quadrupled to just over $20,000, they provide a clear answer to the question “How High Is Up with Namaste”!

The 100 women with the highest percentage increases are a fascinating group. They started at the bottom of the economic scale at $60 a month. There they were, the poorest of the poor, seemingly unlikely candidates for a breakthrough. But 17 months later they had increased their profits to $836 a month, or $10,000 a year –an astonishing 1,293 percent gain! These women moved their families solidly into the middle class.


To sum up:

If a businesswoman started with Namaste with an average income, it doubled. The top 100 in income gains had an above average income, but again their income doubled. The top 100 in percentage gains were at the bottom of the economic scale, and their income went up by a factor of 13. This program works for women at all income levels.

Beyond income what do the demographic and behavioral data tell us about characteristics that show up most often in the successful women? Women who save money, keep records, act on their Business Adviser’s recommendations, work more hours, have fewer children and make their loan payments on time make more money.

And here are more interesting data: of the top 100 women with the largest income gains in dollars, 34 never went to school. 47 were indigenous, non-Spanish speaking Mayan. Only 23 have smartphones (vs. 36 out of every 100 of the other 2,051 clients).

For all women, storefronts, shoes and clothing, and food preparation are the most profitable enterprises. Only 22% of the women had attended high school. Surprisingly, clients in urban areas do not do as well as other clients.

In the general client population, larger loans are associated with greater percentage gains in income; but that is not true for the women in the top 100 lists. Age and marital status also do not make a meaningful difference in client success.

And, while we don’t know how to measure entrepreneurial instincts, spunk, or determination but we know they play a key role in any business success.

Well, that’s my take on “How High Is Up?”. Write and tell me what you think.


Blog Outreach Request

 Do You Have a Question?

I’m looking for stimulating and challenging Questions! Send me one and I will send you an answer, either via email or by publishing it with my thoughts on the Tell Me Why . . . website.

I am especially interested in your questions about Namaste and its work with women micro entrepreuners in Guatemala and about women’s economic empowerment generally. I will also entertain questions about Guatemala, a country I first visited in 1973.

And, guess what! If I publish your question on our website, I’ll send you a free copy of my book, 50 – 50 at 50, my story deciding at age 50, to devote 50% of my money, time and energy to helping others.