Each Namaste client receives Business Advice, Financial Education, and a Microloan. Together these assist her in increasing her business profit so she can move from poverty toward middle-class. This journey of up to four nine-month cycles has as its destination the realization of the dream she has for her business and her life. Currently, there are 400 women participating in the Namaste program.
María Cristina is one of those women. She has only recently joined the Namaste program and is in her first cycle. She is 66 years old, married with a grown daughter. María also had two sons who recently died a month apart, one from kidney disease and one from a type of skin cancer. She lives in a house that she and her husband built in the town of Jocotenango, near the tourist city of Antigua. She has a fifth-grade education. She is a baker and sells bread out of a store that is part of her home. She is one of six women in a group called Las Jocotecas.
María’s dream is to grow her business. She also wants to recover from the death of her sons. Her immediate goal is to pay for the hospital and funeral expenses of her children. She has had her business of baking bread for 28 years. She joined Namaste hoping to learn how to manage her business better. In the two financial education classes her group has had so far, she has learned to separate her personal money from her business money and how to invest in her business. During the visits from her business adviser, she has learned how to keep her store better organized, especially how she manages the money from sales, and to take better care of herself while still maintaining her business.
María invested her $400 loan to buy baking materials in bulk: flour, yeast, butter, and sugar. This saved her money compared to buying these products by the pound. to pay less than buying those products by the pound. When she joined Namaste, her monthly profit was $355: now it has increased to $620. Her sales have jumped as well, from $2,110 per month to $2,875. She is making great use of her increased knowledge!