Helping People Help Themselves To Self-Sufficiency


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El Puente - The Bridge

                     THE MICROLOAN PROGRAM

This program provides small, short term loans, generally less than $400, to individuals to help them help themselves toward self-sufficiency. No collateral is required. Interest rates are very affordable. Capital for the loans is provided by donations from The Founders, individuals and corporations, and in general comes from outside Costa Rica. 

This is similar to the methodology used by the Grameen Fund. Based in Bangladesh, this group has been helping people around the world lift themselves out of poverty since 1987. Their repayment rate is 98%, and they claim higher profitability then conventional banks.  Although we are using the basics of the Grameen approach, we are not affiliated with them.


We are focusing on family units, usually a mom and dad with children, occasionally but not always a young mother raising children alone. The borrower is a member of a small group of people, all existing and potential borrowers living in the same area. These people know each other well, having lived together for many years.

Loan candidates are selected from this group of people. We take the borrower through a personal budget, sometimes the first one they've done in their lives. Then, include the cost of purchasing and implementing for the business idea they have. New revenue and cost projections are made, which include the new cost of operations for the micro-business, the added revenue,  the loan payment, and a mandatory 5% of revenue put into a saving account as new revenue is collected.

Before the loan is made, we discuss how the borrower is gong to get the new business envisioned to repay the loan. This leads to a lively discussion on marketing. In the culture here, workers tend to wait until they're called. We show them how to reach out.

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The Bridge

Microloan recipients at The Bridge

Abilio, left, watches the activity on the porch at The Bridge. He is one of the Microloan recipients, using the loan to enable him to expand his territory and increase his income.