Elsa (not her real name) lives in a remote community of Honduras.
Throughout her adult life, Elsa has earned a living by baking popular Honduran treats—a skill she learned in childhood by watching her mother.
Elsa’s corn “rosquillas”—donut-shaped, hard-baked, savory cookies enjoyed with coffee—are well known in her community. When she bakes a batch, they sell out quickly. In fact, they are so popular that some people in her community even buy some to send to family members in the United States as a little taste of home.
Despite Elsa’s hard work and skills, she has struggled to make a living. For years, all of her profits were used to keep her 10 children clothed, fed, and in school. There was nothing left to invest in the business or to save for a rainy day.
Now that her children have grown, she continues to have family commitments. While none of her children lives at home, four of her grandchildren live with her.
Balancing the needs of her family with the costs of running a business was difficult. When one of the children needed a doctor or there was another unexpected household expense, Elsa had no savings to fall back on.
She had to use her business profits, which meant she had less money available to purchase corn and other ingredients for future orders. This cycle made it impossible to get ahead.
One day, Elsa was visited by a member of a local savings and loan group started by World Renew’s partner Diaconía Nacional.
This woman explained to Elsa that several business owners worked together in the group to save and pool their money. Through this savings and loan group, they could take out small loans to use to invest in their businesses. Elsa was intrigued by the idea and decided to join.
Since then, Elsa has used a small loan to grow her baking business. She is now able to produce enough to meet baked good requests made by members of her community. Not only has she repaid her loan, but she is actively saving money for the future.
With her newfound success, Elsa has decided to make other improvements in her life. She recently joined a Diaconía Nacional literacy class. Like many Hondurans who grew up in poor families, Elsa missed out on the chance to go to school when she was a child. School fees were too costly for her parents to afford.
Thanks to the literacy classes, Elsa can read and write. What’s more, thanks to her new skills, she has been able to access training in business management and is able to carry out basic accounting for her small enterprise. As a result, her income has increased and her self-esteem has grown.
“Now I am able to provide better for my family,” she said. “I am a happier person.”