Financing is one of the biggest barriers to business development for small producers and artisans. Without financing, they are unable to invest in land, raw materials, capital equipment or research and development. Investment in small business owners, particularly farmers, has proven to be one of the most powerful methods of alleviating poverty. Many of our farmers have expanded their capacity substantially, with many economic improvemnts to show for it. 100% of each small businesses loan is distributed to the producer and AGAIG does not take any profit from the loans, just the satisfaction of seeing more successful people becoming self-sufficient.
A great example is Sylvestre Minas, a recipient of a loan for land. Sylvestre works hard as a father, butcher and a coffee farmer. Prior to joining the San Miguel Escobar Cooperative, he owned only 1 cuerda (1/3 acre) of land. Since joining AGAIG nearly three years ago, Sylvestre has quadrupled his land ownership to four cuerdas (1 1/3 acre), with 2 of the cuerdas financed through a loan. Sylvestre has not taken his commitment to the cooperative lightly. He is looking to take a position on the board of directors and is very encouraging of his son's education and work in the AGAIG office. He is wholehearedly investing in his new land by buying 1,500Q (~$188 USD) in fruit and coffee trees, 800Q (~$100 USD) for the land title, and dedicating long hours of labor clearing and preparing the land. The new land sits next to that of two other members of the cooperative. Not only does that mean increased producitivity through the maximization of borders, but also the potential for shared labor, solidarity and security.
Another example of empowering small farmers is Virgilia and Lesbia, who have been with AGAIG for about a year. They are sisters-in-law once removed and have worked together as homemakers under the same roof for years. They have jointly started processing coffee and have been training under their father-in-law. The land they purchased through a land loan is adjacent to land owned by a close female relative. This has given ghree of our female farmers almost 9 contiguous cuerdas (3 acres).
Virgilia on her land Slyvestre overlooking his land