Posted by Chris Dysart
 If you're wondering where your contributions to the Rotary Foundation go, here's a report on our project in Antigua, Guatemala, which we just completed. We had a District Community Grant, and worked with two other clubs - Bainbridge Island and the Passport Club of Pierce County.
This $9000 project provided business training to 22 women entrepreneurs in Antigua, Guatemala. Each woman received about 10 hours of training, met monthly with a Business Advisor to develop her business, and received a microcredit loan.
District Community Grant #14
This project provided business training to 22 women entrepreneurs in Antigua, Guatemala, between September 2017 and May 2018. Each woman received about 10 hours of training, and met monthly with a Business Advisor to develop her business. In addition, each woman received a microcredit loan and was invited to the Business Women’s Conference in April at Lake Atitlan.
The training and business support was provided by Fundación Namaste Guatemaya (FNG). FNG has worked in the communities around Antigua since the 1980s, providing business training, support and microcredit. FNG selected the clients, provided the training and organized the conference.
The District 5020 clubs that supported this $9000 District Grant were Victoria Harbourside RC, Passport RC of Pierce County and Bainbridge Island RC. Four District Rotarians travelled to Antigua in April 2018 to meet the women business clients and attend the Women’s Conference.
Who were the business women who received the training?
The 22 women entrepreneurs who took this training live in rural communities near the city of Antigua. Their businesses include prepared food, clothing, textiles and crafts, small convenience stores, and services.
Women in this area of Guatemala have a high level of poverty. Malnutrition is high. Education levels are low. Most of the women have children, and most also support other family members. The women live in modest conditions, with incomes of $2-$4 a day per family member.  
District Rotarians; Jenny Hildebrand, Mary Coward, Debbie Ranniger, Neel Parikh
At a training session with clients. Both women sell clothing.
Mary Coward and Debbie Ranniger with clients
Results and feedback
The women we met said this training was very helpful to them. In particular the monthly support from the Business Advisor helps them to stay on track and deal with problems as they come up. They face many challenges in operating their small businesses such as: managing cash flow; finding money for supplies and inventory; keeping business money separate from family money; responding to family needs and emergencies; dealing with loan sharks and extortion. 
The Namaste organization reports strong benefits from women who have completed their program. From their Annual Report 2017:
On average, these women began with us making about $125 a month. After nine months, successful graduates gain $150 in profits; in eighteen months, they have gained $380; and after a final nine-month training cycle their total gains total just under $775. In a country where only one person out of five makes more than the minimum wage ($1.70/hr), our clients make double and triple that.
Through this training, the women are learning business skills to improve their success as entrepreneurs, which will help them support their families and maintain a better standard of living over the long term. 

Rotarian participation in this project
Three Rotarians (Mary Coward from Victoria Harbourside; Debbie Ranniger and Neel Parikh from the Passport Club of Pierce County) travelled to Antigua in April 2018. Another Rotarian from the Oak Bay RC, Jenny Hildebrand, also came on the tour.  Oscar Torres provided support from the Antigua Rotary Club.
On the April trip, the Rotarians met with FNG staff to review the program and attended training sessions. They also attended FNG’s annual women’s business conference.
Debbie Ranniger, Pierce County Passport Club, gave the opening address in Spanish, with a Kechua interpreter.  After Debbie’s address, a client came forward and gave a passionate statement about what the program meant to her.
We met with Linci and her advisor, Mario. She is one client supported by our grant. Linci shared that she had used her micro-loan to purchase a small oven.  She sells cupcakes in the plaza of her village and this oven is helping her to expand her volume and increase customers. She also teaches school.
Total funding for the project was $9,000, including Victoria Harbourside ($3,500); Bainbridge Island ($2,000); Passport Club of Pierce County ($500); and District funding (once approved) of $3500.
Application will be made to the District for DCG of $3500.
Namaste Guatemaya also contributed to the project. The District Grant provided only part of the total cost per woman for the 9-month cycle ($425 per woman, out of a total cost to FNG of $620 per woman).  For the 22 women supported by this grant, FNG has committed to continuing for the full 9 months for each woman, using their own resources to complete the program.