This profile was prepared when Brenda Araque was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1997.
The New Idea
Brenda is convinced that access to small amounts of credit and, equally needed, to training and counseling services, can enable poor women to build successful micro-enterprises and dramatically improve their economic situations and prospects. Having observed that women in mushrooming, semi-urban communities on the outskirts of Santiago are in particularly desperate need of such opportunities, she has established a small, community-managed nongovernmental organization in one of those communities to provide the needed help and hope.The new organization has established, and is now enlarging, a revolving loan fund. It has also developed a parallel array of business training and counseling services to address the special needs and problems of the women served by the program, most of whom are single heads-of-households, poorly educated and poorly prepared to manage their fledgling enterprises, and under considerable psychological stress.