Since 2004, Namaste Direct has equipped thousands of Guatemalan women who run small businesses with the skills and resources to increase their profits and pull themselves out of poverty. COVID-19 however, has managed to reverse much of their progress in a matter of months.
Since March, our Business Advisors have conducted their advisory visits via phone or in person, as well as weekly interviews with our clients to get current information on how the pandemic is impacting their livelihoods. All of our clients have experienced a decrease in sales, the majority of them are no longer earning a profit, and 86% of them now live in households with at least one other person who has lost a job due to the pandemic. This virus has exacerbated the already precarious living conditions of the female micro-entrepreneurs we serve.
In response to these challenges, Namaste has developed the following interventions.
1. Creating Prosperity in the time of COVID-19
- We continue to offer our creating prosperity program Business Advisors remain a lifeline for clients, offering individualized support and relief plans. Our advisors support clients in restructuring their businesses and finding new alternatives to stabilize their incomes.
- We are offering a 3 month grace period on loan repayments, suspended late-fees, and we have reduced our interest rate to 1% for the rest of 2020. While these modifications to our Creating Prosperity Program have already been immensely helpful to our clients, we are anticipating significant loan losses this year, as well as a decrease in donations. We are in dire need of financial support to offset our losses and help us continue to serve our clients.
2. Namaste’s Basic Income Supplement Program (BISP)
Each month, Namaste reviews our clients’ profits to see who made less than 80% of the Guatemalan minimum wage, which is $9.6 USD per day.
It is important to note that 92% of the women Namaste serves enter our program earning far less than minimum wage, at somewhere between $2-$5 USD per day. Most of our clients are able to meet, and even exceed the minimum wage after graduating from our program. We selected 80% of the minimum wage as a benchmark that would allow us to provide basic stability to as many women as possible through these times.
After reviewing their monthly profits, Namaste then deducts any government support the women have received, and then we write a check to cover the difference.
This data-driven approach puts financial resources in the hands of the women who need it most.
100% of all donations designated to the BISP will go directly to supplement the incomes of our clients.
3. Emergency Household Fund
Namaste has established an emergency fund to provide clients with cash grants that range between $100 – $197 USD. Our Business Advisors nominate clients who are facing overwhelming financial hardship for these grants. To date, we have made 85 cash grants to keep our clients afloat during these challenging times.
100% of all donations designated to this fund will go directly to our clients.