Success in microfinance is difficult to measure because progress occurs incrementally and may take a generation or more to manifest. Usually, the benefits of microfinance – improvements in healthcare, education, and quality of life – are only visible over a longer timeframe. For industry practitioners and evangelists, the tangible success stories among recipients of microloans are valuable proof of its efficacy. On a recent trip to Valladolid, I was fortunate enough to meet one of the most successful NWTF clients in the foundation’s 25-year history.
The visit to the Galvez family farm was the last stop on a three-day trek through Pontevedra and the surrounding communities. The borrowers I’d met previously mostly operate small businesses that are reliant – directly or indirectly – on the rice- and sugar-farming industries that dominates the region. Homes are modest in size, made from bamboo, aluminum and concrete, with few rooms and, more often than not, earthen floors. And of course, like 80% of NWTF’s clientele, the women live below the poverty line. The Galvez family – Milagros, the matriarch, Lorito, her husband, and their three children, Lawrence, Lori, and Lori Mae – once lived a similar life, until a loan from Project Dungganon (NWTF’s microcredit loan program) allowed them to grow their small sari-sari store into an empire. Eight years ago, the family lived in a house made of bamboo. With the profits of their many businesses, the Galvez’ were able to upgrade to something better.