Part Two - Small Farmer, Big Plans
UMF is proud to announce the second article of a five part series following farmer Antonio Ponce Bautista in Fresh Cup Magazine. Fresh Cup is the first premiere specialty coffee publication produced in the United States and distributes to over 18,000 readers in 12 countries.
Click here and flip to page 46 to read "Part Two-Small Farmer, Big Plans."
Microloan day started off with a 5:30 am breakfast of pancakes and coffee. Though early, there was an air of excitement at the coming day. The first 50,000 lbs. of fertilizer had been unloaded the night before, with another 50,000 lbs. slated to arrive today. After months of fundraising, preparation of documents, loan application reviews, and fertilizer price negotiations, we were ready.
At 6 am, everybody headed out to the warehouse where we would be distributing fertilizer and seed microloans for the next two days. We checked inventory, organized distribution files, and waited for the first clients to arrive. About 7:15, the first truck pulled up and we were going.
Not all microloans were distributed on that first day, with producers coming throughout the next two weeks, depending on where they lived and when their fields needed to be planted and fertilized. Distribution has been completed, and UMF couldn’t be happier with the beginning of its second year of microloans.
With 176 clients, we were able to add 51 new clients to the program, with a total of $24,644 in microloans distributed to 23 microloan groups in 21 aldeas. We are excited to have 25 female clients in our microloan groups and to see over 2/3 of our clients returning from last year.
This year, we were also able to learn more about each of our clients through the microloan application that they filled out. Each client was required to estimate their revenues and agricultural expense for the year, as well as information about themselves and their family. Using this information, we have learned that the average income of these farmers is $5.34 per day, or $0.95 for each person in their house. On average, the farmers we work with have a third grade education. And the average age of these farmers is 40 years old. A closer look reveals the true diversity of the farmers in UMF’s program. For example, UMF’s oldest client is Baudilio Tejada at 76 and Jose Margarito Hernandez is our youngest client at 18 years old.
With the first round of microloans just behind us, we are already planning for the second round of this year’s microloans, future trainings, and the coffee harvest this year. Thank you to all of our dedicated supporters who have helped make this happen, and stay tuned to learn more about the progression of the microloan program this year.
The Class of 2011 UMF Summer Interns
Unión MicroFinanza passed another memorable milestone with the arrival of a rainy Honduran September. Just days before the new month, UMF saw the final two summer interns leave Honduras after a summer of much organizational, communal, and personal growth. It was a very exciting summer. UMF was able to build off the success of last year’s internship and turn something great into amazing.
The interns who passed through UMF’s Honduran Headquarters this summer were passionate about their work and eager to help local communities. University students between ages nineteen and twenty-five joined our team this summer to assist in a whole range of activities: from moving thousands of pounds of coffee, to planting a model field, to meeting rural farmers in their homes, to attending the Cup of Excellence. To say there was no typical day is a gross understatement for the 2011 UMF Internship Program.
We started this summer back in May when Ross School of Business undergrads, Peter Wassermann, Abigail Thomson, and Kathryn Yaros came down. Collectively, they came down representing University of Michigan’s Navara Foundation with the goal of establishing an alliance with Unión MicroFinanza. It was great to have them in La Unión, and we are excited about the beginning of a long partnership with the Navara Foundation!
With a week left in Kathryn’s stay, we were blessed with three more guests. Kyle focused on website development and learned about coffee. Alex spent his summer learning and presenting strategies of impact analysis, both communally and internally. Josh will never look at corn and beans the same way after thoroughly tailoring agricultural best practices to the La Unión region with help from leading academics, USAID experts, and local horticulturalists.
Part of the way through the summer, Kyle returned to the US to work with UMF's US operations. There he joined interns Natalie Clark, from American University and Kelsey LeMahieu from Davenport University.
At the same time Kyle returned, we received two more Navara students. Haley took a business analytical approach developing new ways to track farmer cash flows and assisted in measuring UMF’s impact. Sujith delved deep into accounting with Charlie Heins and worked to restructure the format of weekly UMF meetings. To conclude our list of guests, Jordan and Inney, also from the University of Michigan, spent time creating new media content and strategies to enhance our communication with U.S. supporters.
So much could be said on each of them, but I am limited in words. I will emphasize, however, that their experiences covered an expansive range of themes much larger than directly working for an international non-profit. Like all things impermanent, it is now time to move forwards and welcome new challenges and changes. To all summer interns, thank you for your amazing work. We’re very excited to move forward with the contributions and help of our new allies.