With Access to Finance, Young Entrepreneur Flourishes
After graduating from high school in a rural town in Intibucá, Honduras, Denis Rodriguez dreamed of attending university. However, after noticing that many professionals in his area did not find employment, he instead decided to start his own small agricultural business.
Denis had grown up working on his family’s farm, so it was a natural step for him to branch out on his own in 2013, producing small quantities of broccoli and lettuce but earning little income. After connecting with the ACCESS to Production and Nutrition project in 2015, he began applying good agricultural practices to improve efficiency and quality, and quickly saw his yields increase by more than 200 percent.
"I have more profits because with quality there is a higher price," he said.
With this success under his belt, he continued working with the project to access credit to buy seedlings and start his own greenhouse. Denis started off small, selling about 27,000 seedlings a month, but he quickly realized demand for his seedlings was much higher. Turning again to ACCESS to Production and Nutrition for support, he linked up with a local finance institution, AHIBA Trust, and in 2017, Denis submitted a full business plan and credit application.
In June 2017, he received a $25,000 loan to expand his greenhouse’s capacity and purchase more seedlings. Now, at age 24, Denis is the founder/owner of a successful seedling business in his community of El Tabor. He sold 248,000 seedlings that month, earning enough income to make his loan payments and have money left over to invest in expanding his business.
“I have my monthly salary, and I already want to invest in another greenhouse,” he said.
Denis’s small business is making a big impact on his community. He employs two people full-time and an additional 10 for busy seasons, but more than, he’s providing a valuable good at a fair price to his neighbors. Having healthy seedlings like the ones Dennis sells decreases pests, diseases, and weeds and lowers transplant mortality rates, improving the productivity of the entire region.
As Denis explained, “quality and staggered production improve because my seedlings promote a better root system.”
Denis is just one of the thousands of entrepreneurs the project is helping grow their businesses. From January to July 2017, the program helped 550 households access more than $550,000 in loans, helping to stimulate economic growth across the Dry Corridor.