By Julia Turnbull
On Saturday, three borrowers received their first group of tourists in Teotitlán del Valle. Juana, Rosalia, and Josefa learned about En Vía from relatives who have successfully built up their businesses with interest-free microloans. Each has already received one loan and completed the small business management course that En Vía offers to all borrowers. These women took the business-training module before receiving their first loan, and each woman shared with us that the course has helped her make the most of her loan and has given her new strategies for growing her business.
Juana, who is focusing on making wool bags with leather handles, zippers, and cotton linings, told us that she has been able to buy more yarn and increase her inventory. While her husband’s family has a weaving shop where larger rugs are displayed, the loan that Juana has received is allowing her to build an independent business. In addition to bags, she also has brightly colored rugs featuring unique and intricate designs. Given how busy Juana is taking care of her toddler and managing her household, her ability to increase her inventory is impressive. With her mother-in-law, who is also in her borrowing group, Juana is part of a cooperative. The four women are able to share market space in Oaxaca, as well as split the amount of time they spend managing their market space.
Rosalia, a seamstress and Juana’s mother-in-law, used her first loan to buy cloth and thread. She has her own industrial sewing machine, which she uses to make custom skirts, blouses, and dresses, as well as articles to sell in the village market. Before she received her loan, Rosalia made clothes with the cloth clients brought to her. When she did not have enough funds to purchase cloth and buttons, she had to wait for someone to bring cloth to her home and place an order. Now, she can continue to make special order items and also sew items to sell, boosting her income.
Josefa’s business is selling fresh chicken meat in the daily market. Each Sunday she travels to the regional Tlacolula market to purchase between 20 and 30 live chickens, depending on how many she thinks she can sell each week. She sells pollos criollos, which are native and naturally grown chickens, pollos de la granja, which are raised on farms, and turkeys. Josefa told us that with her first loan, she has purchased feed for her poultry and has also been able to increase her weekly inventory. She has an excellent understanding of her customers’ preferences, the local market, and how to raise her livestock. Josefa expressed her appreciation for the opportunity En Vía has given her to expand her business. Her goal is to become a reliable supplier of fresh chickens and turkeys in Teotitlán’s daily market.
Juana, Rosalia, and Josefa are looking forward to new opportunities in 2012!