Over the last three and a half months, I have been meeting with Manuela Ramos entrepreneurs in the region of Puno, Peru, taking short videos of them and writing brief descriptions on how they used their loans. These journals are published on Kiva’s website and are sent to the lenders who have funded these women’s loans. Below are a few journal postings of women that I’ve found particularly inspiring:
Francisca Gordillo Hermosa
As a Kiva Fellow living in Puno, Peru, I had the opportunity to meet with Francisca Gordillo Hermosa and discuss her most recent loan from the MFI, Manuela Ramos, through Kiva. Francisca works making artesian goods and has been taking out loans with Manuela Ramos, through her community bank, “Dulce Amanecer” (sweet sunrise) for two years. With her most recent loan of $175, she purchased material, such as wool, needles and other sewing supplies, to make gloves, sweaters, hats, embroideries and other goods, which she sells at a small kiosk in the port of Puno, along the shores of Lake Titicaca. Francisca followed in her mother and father’s footsteps and has been working in this business since she was 17 years old.
Francisca is animated as she explains the current situation of the artesian workers at the port of Puno. The port houses almost 160 artesian workers, who work side by side, selling their creations. The competition is steep and there are few tourists during the months of November through April, when Puno’s climate is very wet. In the past, the women paid the city to use this space, but as the women are fighting to acquire a space of land that is more centrally located in Puno and more secure, the women have stopped paying rent. Francisca explains that the kiosks have to close at sundown, as the tourists stop passing by, and that the local is unsafe because the small kiosks lack infrastructure and security at night. She is hopeful that the city will soon find space for the women and tells me that the mayor of Puno is working with them to help in their plight.
Francisca says that her loans from Manuela Ramos help her to increase her capital and help give her security in the months when sales are low. During these slow months, she works tirelessly sewing products, which she hopes to sell as more tourists begin to arrive in her town. She says creativity has helped her through the years and is constantly trying to supply whatever is demanded. For example, when sales are low she works creating thread from wool and sells the thread to artesian workers who are preparing for tourists to arrive.
Although her dream for her business is to one day own a small store where she can securely sell her goods and to travel to other cities to sell the goods, her real dream is that she and her husband will be able to continue to support their three daughters. One of her daughters is studying in the University of Puno to be a teacher, another is preparing to enter the University and wants to study economics, and the other is still in high school. Pride covers Francisca’s face and she assures me that her children will become professionals and live an easier life than she has.
Marleny Candia Sanizo
Marleny Candia Sanizo has been taking out loans with the Community Bank, Inmaculada Concepcion, and the MFI, Manuela Ramos for three years and she has seen her small grocery/convenience store grow. Her loans have provided her with the necessary initial capital to expand her business by offering more variety of products and by selling goods in bulk to nearby schools and hospitals. With her most recent loan of $975, which she is on track to repay in full, she purchased products for her store, such as noodles, rice, soft drinks and snacks. She buys the food from a supplier who comes from the nearby town of Puno, Peru, to her town, Juli, along the shores of Lake Titicaca.
Marleny is certain that the loans from Kiva and Manuela Ramos have helped her be successful with her store. She appreciates the payment schedule, which allows her and fellow members of her Community Bank to pay back only the interest in the first couple months, providing them with the initial capital they need and allowing them ample time to produce a profit. Two years ago, with the savings she was able to accumulate, Marleny opened a second grocery/snack store in the main plaza in town and employs others to run this store.
She dreams that one day she will expand her business further and open up a chain of grocery stores in her hometown of Juli and that she will be able to send her two children to University so they can become professionals. She would like to thank all her Kiva lenders and let you know that with your help the position of women in Peru is changing. She smiles and lets out a little laugh as she tells me that she used to depend on her husband, but that these roles are reversing and she loves that she can provide an example of a strong woman for her 9 year old daughter.
Rosa Luz Arenas Palomino
As a Kiva Fellow living in Puno, Peru, I had the opportunity to meet Rosa Luz Arenas Palomino, discuss her most recent loan from the MFI, Manuela Ramos, through Kiva, and speak in length about her hopes and dreams for her business and her country. Dora is a member of the community bank, “Wiñay”, and has been taking out loans from Manuela Ramos for three years. With her most recent loan of $1,000 Rosa invested in educational courses and material in order to advance in her career of selling online tour packages and self-improvement supplies.
In the past, Rosa worked selling cosmetics. However, Rosa tells me that there were not a lot of profits to be made in this business, because Puno is a poor area where most people don’t have the disposable income to spend on unnecessary items. About one and a half years ago, Rosa began working for an agency that sells travel packages online and sells self-improvement material, such as videos and books. The job is commission based and in order to sell the trips and material, one must be familiar with them and therefore travel and purchase the videos and books oneself. Also, the agency offers educational courses on sales and tourism that Rosa feels are vital to attend in order to succeed. Last year, with the profits she made, Rosa was able to take her husband and two daughters, who currently attend the University of Arequipa, on a five star, one-week trip to Ecuador. She says she received a great discount because of her job and that she never would have been able to afford such a wonderful trip had it not been for her success with this agency.
As Rosa and I discuss her job, she explains to me that her work is very important to her, not only for the commission she makes, but also for the feeling it gives her. She says she believes that the videos, books and other self-improvement items, which are sold through the agencies website, are wonderful and can equip their users with the confidence and skills they need to achieve their dreams. She says that it is a lack of education, not necessarily money that keeps Peru’s population poor. She feels happy and fortunate that she and her husband are able to pay for their children to receive a good education and hopes to continue to work in a field that she feels is making a difference.