After some study and reflection, Enlace Project's Microloan Program is undergoing some changes. Combining the microloans with Enlace Project's consulting work (Los Altos de Ocotal, Manuel Lopez Coffee Cooperative, Fuente de Pino, Sauce Aventuras), the program seeks to extend the services it provides to the businesses of El Sauce. Under the new name, the Small Business Development Program (SBD), its directors Enrique Corrales and Conrad Wright are hoping to work in-depth with a range of small businesses and cooperatives. We sat down with Enrique Corrales to ask a few questions about the changes.
Q: How did the Entrepreneurial Development Program (EDP) begin?
A: The program is an evolution of our microloan program. Enlace Project had already started the business consulting program with some cooperatives a few years ago, but now we have decided to join both the microloan and consulting programs in order to give more in-depth financing and training to cooperatives and small businesses in El Sauce.
Q: How has the program changed and adapted from its roots in the microloan program?
A: The program has experienced some small changes. For example, participants will still be trained through our Financial Education and Business Planning course—as they were in the Microloan Program—but now participants will have a more comprehensive and personalized service. The classes will be where businesses are located with the objective of identifying all the needs that they may have and creating a plan to meet those needs.
Q: Who will the program work with?
A: The program will work with small and micro businesses and cooperatives located in El Sauce. Entrepreneurs interested in the program must be open to learning and implementing new techniques, and they should be transparent and honest with the financial records of the enterprise or cooperative. An entrepreneur should be available to work to increase the business or cooperative, and must be willing to follow the program’s rules.
Q: What is the ultimate goal of the program?
A: Our goal is to develop small and micro businesses and cooperatives so that they become profitable and sustainable by themselves.
Q: What are the advantages to working with a smaller number of businesses for more time?
A: We will focus more on identifying needs, weaknesses, threats and tools they may need. We will give them a more personalized service, working where the businesses are located and we will have more available funds and resources to increase the program’s impact.
Q:When will the program begin?
A: June 2014
Q: How can supporters stay up to date with the program’s accomplishments?
A: Of course I think one of the most important resources we have to update all our sponsors is social media, through Enlace Project’s website and our microloan blog. We will be sharing information on the businesses, cooperatives, and individuals that we decide to work with, and keeping everyone up to date on the program’s progress. However, if anyone wants more specific information they can contact me through e mail (email@example.com). We will be updating information as soon as we can.