Mercedes is one of ten Field Officers we have recognized for their work in Latin America and the Caribbean, and works with our microfinance partner in Paraguay, Fundación Paraguaya. Whole Planet Foundation funds Fundación Paraguaya in the sugar cane producing region of Villarrica, where the success of the program depends on dedicated Field Officers like Mercedes who distribute the loans, help the borrowers stay on track and grow their businesses.
Mercedes has distinguished herself among the Field Officers at Fundación Paraguaya through her constant drive to expand the market of the clients who comprise her portfolio. She encourages and accompanies her borrowers to show their products at regional and national events–one being Expo Mujer in the main park of the country’s capital.
Mercedes has also distinguished herself by putting as much effort as she does managing her portfolio into acquiring new clients. Working with local governmental and religious organizations, she identifies potential clients and has an astute ability to read when the women have a strong desire to better themselves.
Five years ago, Mercedes was diagnosed with early-onset arthritis, but her diagnosis has not hindered her success as a Field Officer and champion for the microcredit client she manages. In fact, she uses the story of her own medical complications to encourage her borrowers to address, treat and manage medical problems of their own.
“With her portfolio being a mix of rural and urban, Mercedes has to travel long distances in order to visit each client and attend the monthly group meetings,” says Armando Huerta, Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean,”The fact that Mercedes manages a portfolio of 1,250 clients, over 2.5 times the average within her organization, makes her dedication even more impressive.”