From the March issue of Forum
By Kim Beecheno, staff writer
Nilva Moreira Neves Pereira didn’t have an easy childhood.
Born into a poor family in Correntina, she grew up selling fruit and cereal in the market square. After moving around and battling health problems, she returned to Correntina, where her father helped her mount a small clothes stall in the market.
It was then that she heard of CrediAmigo, the state-run Banco do Nordeste’s microcredit program, which now supports 340,000 poor Brazilian entrepreneurs like Nilva with loans, providing the capital they need to get their business up and running.
Antonia Pereira of Anamari, Brazil, rises at 7 a.m. most days and works until sunset, embroidering fabric for dresses and bedsheets. Now 59, she runs a small but successful sewing business from her home. Initial capital of U.S.$150 helped her buy a variety of colored thread for more complex designs. With subsequent loans, she bought her first electric sewing machine. (Photo provided by www.accion.org)
Today, after borrowing eight loans, Nilva owns three shops selling shoes and domestic products. Her children are at university, and one of them is studying to become a doctor. For someone who admits she never had a hope of studying, Nilva is proud of the life she’s built.
“I’m not rich, but I have a good life now,” she said. “I borrowed the money and invested it in goods. My husband didn’t believe that such a small sum would help, but he supported me.” (more…)