What its all about...

Trip Start May 03, 2007
Trip End Jun 2007

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Flag of Mexico  ,
Sunday, July 8, 2007

In the middle of emotional goodbyes, frantic packing and planning for the homeward journey, and contemplation over what comes next for many of us, a group of eight riders set out into the Mexican night on an overnight bus for Hermosillo. This medium sized city set in the desert is a solid 12 hours southeast of Tijuana, and is home to a regional office for ADMIC, one of the microcredit organizations we expect to partner with through Kiva. They made great efforts to welcome us and ensure our group could experience the implementation and effects of microcredit on the ground in this city. In a setting dominated by the pounding sun (40 degrees in the shade?!?!?) Hector from ADMIC arranged for a couple of vehicles to take us from the hotel to their local office where we had a chance to pepper them with as many questions as we could come up with. With none of the local staff speaking English, and only Keely and I to translate the process was....bumpy, at times, but we learned a lot about the daily operations necessary to keep this system running. From interest rates (5% range) to loan structures ($100-$2000, 6-12 months, flexibility when the situation dictates), to client base (largely urban, confined to <50 K around the office), to where funding comes from (mixture of commercial loans, Kiva, government support, working capital) to the employees' motives for working there and more we were given free run of the office.

We later set back out into the scorching sun to visit several local businesses succeeding in part with the assistance of microloans - the experience was as powerful as anything I've personally been through. After months and months of speaking about microcredit, extolling its simplicity, its power to help people shape their lives for the better, discussing the importance and necessity of providing people with simple access and the opportunity improve the lot of their families...it all snapped home. I mean, we knew it was true, we believed intensely in the cause....but it was REALLY true. To see the results directly in front of us, to witness the pride each of these people had in their successful efforts to support their families, and to hear it directly from them, shredded any last doubts we may have had.

Over the course of an entire day we visited 1) a tiny street vendor, 2) a polished corner store, 3) a small tienda in a street marker, 4) a tire sales and repair shop, 5) a glass maker/artisan, and 6) a family tortilla making operation run from a small house - all built partly or in whole through microcredit loans, often several loans over time as original ones were paid back.

Our little crew had an amazing time in Hermosillo, the capital of the state of Sonora and a bustling marketplace in the day, but perfectly sleepy and seemingly almost deserted in the evening. A short but intensely powerful experience, a sharp reminder of what this was all about, the perfect wrap-up to a challenging journey of personal growth, and something none of us will soon forget.
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