Posted by Future Without Poverty On December - 4 - 2010 0 Comment

What a fantastic summer this was for us – and what a great autumn it is shaping up to be!

Thanks to all of you, we were able to make a huge leap this summer. Last summer, our first full summer running trips, we were able to give loans to 9 women in Teotitlán. This summer we gave out 75 loans!

It was because of the people you talked to, the reviews you wrote on TripAdvisor and other websites, the stories you posted in your blogs, and all the feedback that you’ve given us to make our program even better that we were able to reach out to so many more women this summer. Thank you!

What makes this leap even more exciting is that we have had such a strong start to the fall, that as our borrowers finish paying off their summer loans, we have been able to get them new, bigger loans much more quickly than before.

I think you’ll like this story of one of our new borrowers from this summer – a woman named Minerva Sanchez Sosa who just received her second loan last night.

Her project

Minerva is a single mother, raising her 3-year old daughter, Angélica.

(About Angélica: picture a little girl with a huge smile, running through the center of the group at every visit to her mother’s house, picking up her tiny white puppy and putting it on our visitors’ laps, and then chasing the baby chicks around and showing them off too. All while her mother is trying to make her presentation – and trying to keep a straight face.)

Minerva is 30 years old, smart, engaging, and with a wonderful story to tell. She is from Teotitlán, but lived for a few years in Sonora – the place they call the “Cradle of Flour Tortillas”. (You may remember that in Oaxaca, all of the hand-made tortillas are corn tortillas.) While she was there, she fell in love with the flour tortillas, and asked a tortilla-maker to teach her so that she could make them for her family when she got back home to Oaxaca. The tortillera agreed to teach her, but only on the condition that she open a business in Oaxaca to sell them – so that she could support herself and her daughter.

Minerva agreed, and came back to Oaxaca with the idea of starting this business. She started with just one kilo of flour, making a batch of tortillas and giving free samples to her family and neighbors, then taking their orders for more.

Her first loan

Minerva found out about En Via’s loan program through a friend, and applied for her first loan this summer. Sheformed a borrower group with her mother, Miroslava, and friend, Maria. Miroslava uses her loans to buy wool for the beautiful rugs she weaves, and Maria uses hers to buy more of the pottery she sells to supplement the small income she makes as a curandera – a healer – in the town.

With her first loan, Minerva was able to really launch her tortilla business, using the 1300 pesos to buy flour and other raw materials. Now she makes 2 kilos every day (about 80 tortillas), and sells them to family and neighbors from her home, in the Teotitlán market every morning, and to a handful of small restaurants – including the cafeteria at the ICO, which uses her tortillas to make the quesadillas that students buy in the morning.

When she needs extra money urgently, Minerva makes additional tortillas and goes door-to-door in her neighborhood, offering her free samples and selling all the rest of what she can make.

Her vision

Minerva has a great opportunity right now – she is able to sell all of the tortillas she can make, and knows that there is an even bigger market to which she could be selling far more. Many Oaxacans who have been to Northern Mexico or to the US loved the flour tortillas there and are very happy to be able to buy them in Teotitlán – and even those who hadn’t tried flour tortillas before love them once they try Minerva’s.

What she needs to take advantage of this is just the cash to invest in her business, to buy the raw materials to make as many tortillas as she can sell. Minerva has a vision that in the future, she will start a small cooperative to make more tortillas, specifically to help other single mothers and poor women in Teotitlán. She knows that by sharing the work, and selling to everyone who wants to buy them, she can help not only her own family, but many other families in the community.

Her second loan

With her second loan, which she received three days ago, Minerva is taking another step towards this vision. She will use this loan to buy more raw materials, a parilla (a small stove) and a bigger comal (the clay dish used to cook tortillas). With these, she will be able to make up to 8 kilos of tortillas each day – including the bigger tortillas that she will sell to a burrito maker.

Minerva also recently started making whole wheat, organic tortillas – which she sells at 20 pesos for 10 tortillas. The first batch I ordered was gone within an hour – delicious! – and my second order is on its way 🙂

Thank you from all of us in Oaxaca to all of you for making Minerva’s loan, and all the rest of our work, possible!

All the very best,

Emily

Emily Berens
Fundación En Vía
www.envia.org
emily@envia.org

About Future Without Poverty

has written 27 post for this site.

Future Without Poverty is a non-profit organization that was born through the realization that handouts were not enough to fight poverty. Simply making donations is not sufficient. Instead, sustainable opportunities are needed to adequately fight poverty.

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