Marleny lives with her husband, her 5-year old son and her parents in the community of Cauchal, Capira district (in the Cacao jurisdiction), in a house built of leaf stalks, zinc and earth. Reaching her home is not easy, you have to cross a dirt track road which is hard to access in the rainy seasons, one hour’s drive after leaving the main highway.
Marleny has not had an easy life. She has been working since she was 15 years old. First with her parents, whom she helped in farming tasks after her brother died when he was 18, and then in her own enterprise. In this latter phase she has been supported by Microserfin, the institution which has granted her six loans over the different growth phases of her business.
Since that time she has bred chickens and pigs on a small scale, as well as growing and selling yucca plant, coriander, yams, ají peppers, bananas and the root vegetable taro. She has had to overcome many obstacles, such as transporting her products by horse to the food markets in Chorrera and Panama City.
Little by little she has tried to improve her own standard of living and that of her family. In 2011 Marleny applied to Microserfin for her first loan of USD 250 to buy chickens to fatten up, which she paid back in eight months. The experience was positive, she met her payment obligations and in 2012 she applied for a renewal for USD 375 to enlarge her farm sheds. Thanks to these improvements, she and her husband started selling their goods in fairs, opening up more sales opportunities.
Although she had started building her own house, the income from selling her products was not enough to be able to finish it. In 2013 Marleny applied to Microserfin for two new loans, which she duly paid off punctually. The excellent news of having won a permanent stall at her fairs has enabled her to sell her products two days a week, resulting in higher earnings so that she can finish her house and move out from her parents’ home.
In 2014 she asked for her first farming loan in order to enlarge her yucca plots, sow pigeon pea and breed pigs and chickens. In 2015 once again she was granted a renewal of USD 1,000 to continue extending production.
Marleny is very proud of what she has achieved to date; with Microserfin’s support she has proven that by working and investing the loans appropriately she can get on, improve her own and her family’s standard of living and even help other people, giving them the chance to work with her on her plots of land. She is grateful to the institution for the opportunity it has given her to grow and forge a promising future.