Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Village Bank Profile: Rosa Condor, Mother and Entrepreneur Extraordinaire

Rosa selling her delicious potatoes and ceviche
Petite in her blue coat, Rosa Condor navigates the streets and markets in Cajamarca, looking for fresh produce to prepare her daily recipe of ceviche and potatoes. With help from DiscoverHope, Rosa has achieved her independence and is able to provide for her four children. She has a successful small business and even before Rosa sets up her food, clients are already waiting for her.

This is for sure a success story, and one of many I have heard since arriving in Cajamarca. There are hundreds of women whose lives are being changed by the DiscoverHope/Microcredit alliance, which provides low interest micro loans and complements them with capacity building. But Rosa’s story, though I’ll share a bit here, is yet to be told.

She is a single mother of four – two girls and two boys. Her oldest is 14 years old but when he has no school, he contributes to the family income by working in a combi (microbus). Tania and Nataly, 9 and 7 years old respectively, go to school during the day. And there is Brian, about 2 years old.

Three times a week, Rosa wakes up at 4 a.m. and walks long distances to catch a combi that will take her into town to make the purchases for her ceviche. On those days, she leaves her children sleeping and does not return until 6 or 7 a.m. Already, this has presented grave problems. A few years ago, one of the girls lit up the stove and caused a fire that almost took the two girls’ lives. Now Rosa has her locale two doors from her home, but she still must leave her children alone at dawn.

In her makeshift kitchen, small chores become harder. She often squats to peel potatoes and corn; runs inside the living room to use her blender; and has to haul her food two doors down to her small restaurant. In the restaurant, she has no running water or a proper stove, so she has to prepare everything at home and then carry it to the restaurant. Many buy Rosa’s ceviche but few know the cost at which Rosa is able to maintain her small business.

Rosa’s profits have allowed her to put food on the table for her own family. She has also acquired proper beds for her family and a few commodities, such as a TV and a dresser. But she still has higher aspirations. Her dreams are to have a locale with everything necessary to prepare her food in it. She also wishes to learn more recipes so she can provide a wider variety of foods for her clients.

As Rosa sits outside her locale, during the rare moments when she has no clients, she barely stays awake. Her mornings are tough. But twice a week, her afternoons are filled with joy as she visits her communal bank for knitting classes. The morning version of Rosa, tired and overwhelmed, becomes alive at the knitting sessions. Surrounded by her peers, she is less shy, has an easier smile, and a quicker laugh.