Monday, June 15, 2009

Field Report: CreditMujer/Manuela Ramos, Peru

Following on from my last post, I have received this field update from Kiva fellows in Peru:

Manuela Ramos is an organization dedicated to the advancement of Peruvian women. Founded in 1978, its programs include educating women, primarily in the rural areas of Peru, about gender equality, domestic violence, women’s rights and environmental awareness. It now has programs in fifteen locations throughout Peru, with seven regions operating microfinance programs. The microfinance program on which we worked, CrediMujer, assists groups of 15-30 women to come together, form a community bank, and take out a loan to use in their individual businesses. This is where Kiva comes in, by providing interest-free capital for Manuela Ramos to lend.

By supporting an entrepreneur who works with Manuela Ramos/CrediMujer, you are also supporting the progress of women living in the poorest regions of Peru. Although the loan amounts offered by Manuela Ramos are small (between $100 and $1,000), they make an impact on these women’s lives by providing them with the necessary capital to start and, sometimes, to expand their businesses.

Entrepreneurs partake in different businesses depending on the regions in which they live. Our experiences as Kiva Fellows in the field have also been influenced by the diverse geography in Peru. In the San Martin region, which is located in the Amazon basin of Peru, Diana encountered not only some very hot days, but also the warmth and generosity of its women, who would often give her treats like coconut water, fresh oranges, and cold soft drinks to help her cool off after a long day walking under the sun. Because San Martin's primary economic activity is agriculture, Diana visited many entrepreneurs with businesses related to agriculture or food production and sales. Growing cocoa, selling plantains, preparing local dishes like juanes (a mixture of rice, chicken, eggs, olives, and spices, wrapped in "bijao" plant leaf) and anticuchos (grilled meat on a skewer), and selling basic foods, were the most common business activities in this area.

In the city of Puno, nestled in the Peruvian Andes, Emily experienced the bitter cold and intense sun that the region is known for and saw the economic benefits that the tourism industry has brought to the area.
Puno is located on the shores of Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world, and attracts many tourists who buy Peruvian tapestries, embroideries and alpaca sweaters, scarves and hats to keep warm. In addition to creating these artesian goods to sell to tourists, many Manuela Ramos entrepreneurs work in businesses that fatten livestock and operate small kiosks or general food stores.

Although we have been working separately in two different Manuela Ramos offices, we have focused on the same type of work, primarily writing journals for Manuela Ramos’s Kiva entrepreneurs. While the borrower profiles on Kiva’s site present information about how the entrepreneur plans to use the loan, journals provide follow-up information about how that loan was used and the effect it has had on the entrepreneur’s life. Although Manuela Ramos has employees and Kiva Fellows like us working hard to increase the number of journals written, financial and logistical constraints make it very difficult to produce a journal for each entrepreneur. Whether or not you have received a journal about the Manuela Ramos entrepreneur to whom you gave a loan, we hope that you will enjoy the story of Gloria, one of these entrepreneurs.

Gloria lives in the city of Tarapoto, the main commercial hub of the San Martin region. She makes “salchipapas,” a dish consisting of French fries and hot dog links, often accompanied by coleslaw or other variations, depending on the cook's particular style. Gloria's love for her business shows not only in the quality of her service and the food she serves, but also in her loyal customer base. Gloria has been a member of her community bank for quite a few years and her most recent loan of 1,000 soles (approximately $300 USD), was financed through Kiva by lenders like you. With this loan, Gloria bought tables, chairs and other supplies. This investment allowed her to better serve her customers and provide them with a more comfortable environment. However, Gloria's plans for her business don't end there. As an enterprising woman, she is thinking about the future of her business. To hear more about these plans from Gloria, see this short video interview (scroll to the bottom of the page).

Thank you for supporting entrepreneurs like Gloria and helping Manuela Ramos work on behalf of Peruvian women!

Best Regards,

Emily Sweeney and Diana Rodriguez

Kiva Fellows 7th Class

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