Ramona Francisca Manzanares, a resident of Nicaragua’s Miramar community, is a role model for women in JustHope’s microcredit program. However, this 74-year-old widow and mother of eight wasn’t always this confident. In fact, when she received her first $250 loan in 2014, she was so scared that she buried the money.
When I visited her a month later to see how she was doing, she told me what she had done. I asked her to join me and visit one of her partners, Consuelo. She filled us in on her project, how she used the money and what she bought with her loan. Consuelo was delighted with her business and enthusiastic about what she could accomplish after taking this step.
Ramona changed her mind and retrieved her buried money, purchasing a baby cow the next day. Now she has seven cows and is a go-getter who sells milk and cuajadas (cheese-like edibles made of milk). Ramona is one of my best examples in the microcredit program, always paying off her loan early. She takes pride in talking about her livestock. She wants to keep up the good work to show that all a woman needs to succeed is an opportunity and faith in themselves to believe they can make it in life.
JustHope has been that opportunity for Nicaraguan women to believe in ourselves, not only because of the financial support but also because of the relationships we have built with the organization — a relationship that has turned into a collective under the name of Mujeres Unidas (Women United).
Ramona recalls how her lack of confidence in the past could have deprived her of the success she enjoys today. Today, Ramona wears a smile and has great hope for her future. She does not rely on her children to support her anymore, living a quiet life earning her own money. Her greatest reward is helping new associates within the microcredit group of women.