The success story of potter Maria Cecilia Valentin Hernandez

Maria is 46 and lives with her husband and three children in La Esperanza. “La Esperanza” means “Hope”. And there is indeed hope. Maria Cecilia has her own thriving business. With plenty of creativity and hard work, she provides an income for her family and is building a better future for her children.

In Maria Cecilia’s family, the craft of pottery is passed down from generation to generation. When she was a little girl, Maria Cecilia helped her mother make the clay, sand the jugs, and fetch water.

By the age of twelve, she had already mastered all the tricks of the trade. Her hands were familiar with the shapes, she had mastered the baking process and polishing was a doddle. And she lived up to her creativity with stunning decorations and motifs.

Her first credit

In 2006, Maria Cecilia started her own business in an extension to her home. She sold the pots and jars she made to tourists visiting La Esperanza. And at the local markets in the nearby villages, because the people of Honduras also wanted to buy her products.

Ten years later, Maria Cecilia approached the microfinancing institution PILARH ODPF. She knew about the organisation through her husband. He had an agricultural credit there, for which she was guarantor. Could she too obtain a microcredit to expand her business?

Maria Cecilia applied for her first credit along with two other potters, Juana and Victoria. Her colleagues acted as guarantor for her and vice versa. Specifically, this meant that the women guaranteed to pay off each other’s loans if there were repayment problems.

Maria Cecilia expanded her business with the extra money from her microcredit, which amounted to a few hundred euros. She bought additional raw materials and increased production. She also received support for her accounting, marketing and sales. Her pottery expanded.

Potter turned businesswoman

PILARH ODPF is a microfinancing institution and provides credits. In addition, the organisation has a separate division for social services. It provided the potter with technical support to further develop her business.

That started by improving her financial literacy. Maria Cecilia learned how to set up accounts and plan her repayments. She also learned sales techniques and simple marketing. In addition to being an experienced potter, she became an expert businesswoman.

The pottery is now a thriving business. Maria Cecilia is delighted with her work. She makes beautiful things she is proud of and which enable her to support her family. Thanks to her work, her children will be able to go to university later on and improve their opportunities.

Maria Cecilia is a loyal customer of PILARH ODPF. She pays off her credits promptly and is able to obtain new and larger loans as a result.