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Teaching – and Learning! – with Fabiola Cantero

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At just 25 years old, Fabiola Cantero is the village banking loan officer in the Lambaré (a city near to Asunción) office of Fundación Paraguaya. As part of her job, she helps the groups, or “committees,” of women entrepreneurs who come to Fundación Paraguaya seeking group credit. Her work is extensive: Fabiola is involved from the group’s formation through its loan disbursement, and she helps provide training activities for their clients in different businesses disciplines so that they can increase their income with new ideas.

Fabiola is herself an active community leader who studies Commercial Engineering in the evenings. She first encountered Fundación Paraguaya through her mother, who received credit through a women’s committee to enlarge the family business (a little varieties shop). As a result, Fabiola is well-positioned: she knows her clients very well and understands their needs, their problems and their dreams firsthand. She is a leader close to them.

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Fabiola at her desk

Fabiola’s day starts early; she lives far away from her office and it takes up to 1 hour to reach Lambaré. After arriving at the office, she and her boss discuss pending issues, and she works on collecting and logging information and data from her clients for most of the morning.

Almost every afternoon, Fabiola visits women’s committees to offer different lessons: operative credit issues, information gathering, group formation, surveillance and options to help them increase their income and diversify their activities. Fundación Paraguaya  is developing trainings for specific types of microenterprises, like jewelry and makeup businesses, and all of the lessons always emphasizing savings, teamwork and group commitment.

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A group of women learn about the jewelry-making business.

Fabiola’s hard work has not only increased her client numbers: she’s helped committees repay their loans and continue to grow for many credit cycles. In turn, this work has allowed her to grow as a person and individual: from her clients, she’s learned how to persevere, to be clear about her own dreams, to improve her Guaraní (the local language), and to better manage her own finances and set an example for them. As she questions her clients about their dreams, goals and desires, she can truly reflect on – and work toward – her own.

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