Thursday, March 27, 2014

Small Business Development Update

It has been an exciting few months for the Small Business Development Program! January marked the conclusion of our second loan cycle, which was met with a 100% repayment rate and positive reviews from all loan recipients.

Second round loan recipients and SBD PDs on the last repayment 
After seeing first hand how much impact these small loans can have, we wanted to find a way to expand the program to more individuals. So, throughout the months of December and January we ran an Indiegogo campaign, which successfully raised $2,415. Thanks to our generous donors, we were able to almost double our lending capacity for the third loan cycle, which began on February 7. Now in our third year working in Jatumpungo, we had a lot of interest from community members. Applicants attended a series of small business classes, taught by ourselves and organizations ranging from Deloitte to a small organic food co-op. After filling out applications and business plans, we interviewed sixteen different business owners and selected seven individuals to receive loans ranging from $150 to $800.

Applicants attend a charla on marketing, taught by our friends at a local food co-op, De la Mata a la Olla
This loan cycle we are putting a big emphasis on proper accounting, in an effort to avoid a fairly common scenario for small businesses in our community—losing money without even knowing it. Last week our friend Carlos, who takes English classes at Manna and has a degree in accounting from a local university, accompanied us to each loan recipient’s house to design an individual accounting system that works for each business. Just three weeks after loan distribution, we were thrilled to see how much progress has already been made!

Hector, who used his loan to open a tienda, already has a fully stocked store and has been keeping diligent notes of each income and expense. Over drinks and snacks sold at the tienda, Taylor, Carlos and I spent a few hours going over how to calculate profit, and making a comprehensive price list for each item sold in Hector’s store. Our hope is that he will be able to see which products he makes the most money on, and make sure to stock a larger inventory of those. Each Friday, Program Directors, who have paired up with one or two business owners, will visit Jatumpungo to help with accounting and offer suggestions on marketing and related topics.

Hector and his new tienda!

We are so excited to have such an ambitious and entrepreneurial group of loan recipients, and look forward to watching their growth and successes. We will continue with monthly repayments and weekly accounting meetings, but in the meantime we are looking to expand yet again. This time to Rumiloma-- the neighborhood where our community center is located. Through a partnership with the community president, we plan to offer a two month long small business development course, followed by microloan applications. We’ll keep you updated!

Written by PD Cate Parker 

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