Update from the Virgen de Fátima Group in Bolivia

Virgin de Fatima group in Bolivia

Virgin de Fatima group in Bolivia

Progress received from one of our projects in Bolivia:

As a Kiva Fellow working with Kiva’s local partner MFI in Bolivia, Emprender, I recently had the opportunity to visit with the women in the Virgen de Fatima group.

The women were waiting for me to rush back from another client visit and meet them at the home of Graciela, where they meet once every two weeks to make their loan payments. At first everyone was a little quiet and timid, but soon they relaxed and I felt very welcome in this large group of friends. We went around the circle, and I learned a little about each person’s business.

Raquel has a small business selling used clothing as a vender. She has a small cart where she displays her clothes, and every day looks for a good place to set up shop. She has been doing this for the past year, and finds that she makes more money in this business than she did selling juices. She used her loan to make the change and is very happy she did so.

Graciela has a small restaurant where she sells breakfast and lunch for 10 Bolivianos, or about $1.50. Each lunch is a fixed menu and includes both a large, hearty soup, and a main course. Sometimes she offers api which is a traditional drink for cooler weather. It is made of ground corn, water, lemon juice, sugar, cloves and cinnamon and is served with some type of fried pastry with cheese.

Asunta has a small variety store for the past 3 years where she caries a large variety of pastries and packaged sweets. She has recently decided to supplement this store with make-up sales. She used her Kiva funded loan to move in this direction.

Aida makes different jams and spreads. She makes a very popular strawberry and peach jam with all natural ingredients. She also makes Manjar Blanco which is similar to dulce de leche, but it doesn’t have any additives. This is made by boiling milk and sugar until it thickens into a sauce poured onto bread and other breakfast items. She makes lots of jars of this from her house, based on different orders from her clients, which are most often friends, neighbors and family members. She is hoping to set up a contract with different elementary schools in the area and provide a fixed amount of jam weekly.

Ruth also sells perfumes and cosmetics, but needed the capital to purchase the items. Her friends are quick to add that Ruth’s creams are the nicest to be found in El Torno, a town outside of Santa Cruz, Bolivia where these women live.

I was sorry not to have time to visit with the whole group but really enjoyed getting to know these businesses better. Thank you for supporting them!

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