by Kyra Siegel and Julia Turnbull
Enedina Gonzalez Alavez has been working with En Vía since we began offering interest-free loans in Teotilán del Valle three years ago. Enedina, along with her mother and her daughter, have embraced the program and opened their home for the weekly Tuesday borrowers’ meetings. She has encouraged many others to join the program and undoubtedly, has been an example of how one can improve her business with dedication and interest-free loans. Like many others in Teotilán, Enedina’s family is one of weavers. However, when Enedina borrowed her first interest-free loan, she was operating a grocery store from a small room in her family’s house on one of the main streets of the town. The grocery store was not very profitable, and Enedina knew she had to make a change. Last Saturday, Enedina shared with us how En Vía has helped her create a business out of weaving and make the most of her family’s resources.
Enedina used her first loan to buy weaving materials—wool to spin into thread, the white cotton thread on which the rugs are woven, and dyes. Her second loan was used to purchase additional weaving supplies. With her third and fourth loans, Enedina expanded her weaving store into a larger room of the house, directly facing a busy street. She was able to market her crafts directly to passing tourists, and better understand her clients’ preferences. By the time she received her fifth loan, Enedina had enough inventory to use the money to expand her shop into a second room of her home.
Enedina is preparing to receive her sixth loan along with her mother, who is also part of En Via. Her mother, Juana, is also using her En Vía loans to improve the family weaving business. Juana learned how to weave from her husband, who passed away when Enedina was a child. She also taught Enedina the craft. Weaving has traditionally been men’s work, both because the looms are very large, and because the work is strenuous. The traditional looms are operated with foot pedals, and with each pass of the shuttle, the thread must be pulled tight with an overhead bar. Juana is grateful that she still has her eyesight, and that she is strong enough to weave. For Juana, weaving is a creative outlet and an opportunity to reflect. It is something she had little time to enjoy while she was raising her family. She thinks while she is weaving, and says that when she begins a new design, she does not always know what the finished tapete, or rug, will look like, but that is her favorite part of the process.
Yanet, Enedina’s daughter, is also part of En Vía. During the week, Yanet works in Oaxaca and also attends college, where she is studying accounting. Yanet has used her interest-free loans to purchase supplies for making unique beaded earrings, which are on display in Enedina’s store. Yanet uses her income to supplement her education expenses.
With interest-free loans from En Vía, Enedina has been able to build her business uses resources that her family already had—looms, retail space, knowledge of the craft, and most importantly, hard work and patience. Together with her mother, she has slowly, but tirelessly, worked to improve their business and their lives.