Update from Maria España Ugaz Castillo in Peru

An update from Maria España Ugaz Castillo in Peru:

This morning I visited Maria at her stall behind the chicken-sellers in the Micaela Market, an eclectic collection of stands along the main road which connects Pucallpa to faraway Lima. Maria sells cooked beans out of two extra large pots. Every once in a while she interrupted our conversation to call out “Frijoles!” (“Beans!”) to passers-by. Maria gets up around 3:00 am to begin cooking the beans over charcoal. By 7:00 am they are ready. Maria works every day from Monday to Saturday, taking Sunday off to attend church.

Maria just received a new loan of 1500 soles (about $500) from Manuela Ramos through her communal bank, “Mujeres Perseverantes” (Persevering Women). She plans to use part of this loan to start up another business selling cooked meats in the evening from her home. The money will go toward purchasing plates and cups to serve the food to customers as well as toward more beans for her current business. Maria decided to start this additional business to supplement her income because bean sales have not been very good lately. Although Maria’s two adult sons, who are policemen in other towns, have helped Maria to pay her loans, she does not want to count on their help indefinitely.

Maria told me that the fact that her bean sales are down is due in part to competition from other sellers in the market. She also must face a lot of fluctuation in the price of beans, which makes having a steady income more difficult.

Maria is a widow and lives with her 25-year-old daughter who works as a secretary at a local school. Maria went to work for the first time after her husband died three years ago. Around that time Maria began working with Manuela Ramos and used her first loan to start her bean-selling business. Maria told me that she enjoys selling. Without her loans from Manuela Ramos, Maria told me, she would not have the capital to work. She is proud to have never gotten behind in her loan payments.

In this short video clip Maria talks about her goal of moving forward with her business.

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