Open to Grow Newsletter – November 2013
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Letter from Founder


Thank you for taking the time to read our first Newsletter!

Open to Grow and our US partner NamasteDirect are proud to provide microcredit (micro-loans) and business education to poor women who own small businesses. Open to Grow is the micro-lending part of this effort.

Our clients are the centre of our work and our job is to help them grow their net profits and improve the quality of life for their families.

We operate in Guatemala, one of the poorest countries in Latin America. It has one of the highest malnutrition rates in the world and an average education level of Grade 4.

Have a look below at our activities and achievements since we started making loans two years ago. These results have been made possible by the efforts and generosity of hundreds of people – donors, grantors, event supporters, auction item donors, and volunteers. We are continually humbled by your generosity. Together we have helped more than 1,400 women to move out of poverty.

We are now expanding our program. You can help launch hundreds more Guatemalan businesswomen on the road to financial success for them and their families by making a charitable donation now to Open to Grow. We are happy to announce that you can also donate Aeroplan miles to our program.

Thank you very much for your support.

Bob Brown, Founder

Why Support Open to Grow?
  • We are more than microcredit. We are microcredit plus mentoring plus measurement.
  • We are having a positive impact on poverty reduction. To date we have made over $350,000 in small loans, which have helped improve the lives of over 7,000 family members.
  • Our clients’ skills are growing. They have learned business skills by preparing business plans, attending classes and meeting one-on-one with their business advisors every month. These acquired skills will last a lifetime.
  • Our clients are working hard. They are implementing what they have learned by making changes to their businesses, increasing the number of hours they invest in their businesses, and keeping financial journals to measure the results.
  • As a result, our clients’ profits are growing. To date, program graduates have on average increased their net profits by 33%.
Your donation will help these businesswomen move out of poverty, provide more food for their families, keep their children in school longer, and have clean water, better housing and badly needed medical care.

One Story Out of a Thousand  

Meet Carmen, a client in her sixth month in the program, and someone with a pretty impressive goal.  

Carmen has been selling food at the Santa Ana Park outside Antigua for a number of years. She has become famous for her garlic bread, a product she introduced to differentiate herself from the competition. Carmen is single mother with two daughters and a granddaughter. Four months ago, she received a $320 loan and invested all of it into her business. The first improvement Carmen made to her business was to correct an unsafe electrical outlet in the area where she cooks. She then invested in tables, chairs, a new grill grate, gas to fire the grill, and bulk product. Since joining the program, Carmen has steadily increased her profits (by 11% each month). She is well on her way to her goal of adding a new location where her daughters can sell her food.
Board of Directors
Bob Brown
Karen Brown
Michael Flatters
Heather Gore-Hickman
David S. Kertland
Carrie Lonardelli
Patrick McNaught
Thomas Vukovich

Advisor to the Board
Dr. Francisco Rafael Barquero
Guatemala Team
Italia Triquez, Executive Director 
Eugenia Duran, Program Director
Domingo Reguan, Regional Coordinator
Hugo Lacan, Regional Coordinator
Bernardino Garcia, Finance Manager

Jorge Noj, Accountant
Julio Guzman Tzoc, Loan Officer
Marilda Xiloj, Loan Officer
Juan Carlos Hidalgo, Loan Officer 
Gabriela Lopez, Data Entry
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