By Rachel Gittinger, KF13, Costa Rica
Every MFI offers credit in the form of micro-loans. It is, after all, the point of their existence. However, many institutions, including Fundación Mujer, offer an array of other services as well. These “wraparound” services can include anything from doctor’s visits to funeral insurance. At the Fundación, they take the form of several capacity building activities. Courses cover a variety of topics; cooking, jam making, giving haircuts and manicures, developing viable business plans and adequately pricing services, just to name a few.
With the Christmas season approaching, popular courses have become those of “manualidades” or crafts. Here at the Fundación there is a green twist. The lobby serves as a recycling center for everything from papers to tin cans and glass bottles. Through the recycling courses, cereal boxes become gift bags, tin cans and glass bottles beautiful Christmas arrangements, newspaper morphs into elaborately woven baskets and discarded plastic becomes a fashionable handbag. After all, ‘tis the season to turn trash into profit. The recycling classes have been a huge hit, and now it’s not unusual to see clients or employees picking up trash and stashing it in their purse for future artistic use. The recycling course has awakened not only the creative nature of many of these women, but their social and environmental consciousness as well.Click to view slideshow.
The driving force behind these training sessions is Ana Iris, director of training at the Fundación Mujer. An energetic perfectionist, she is always working to improve the courses offered. She exudes warmth and commands attention. Clients love her, and listen intently as she explains fixed vs. variable costs in their business plans. Ana is passionate as explains the value of “wraparound” services such as these courses. Not only do these courses offer tangible skills that can be converted into effective micro-businesses, but they are a place for women to congregate and learn from one another, speak honestly, and build supportive friendships.
In the end, it all comes down to this: Loaning on www.kiva.org is a mere $25, but seeing the impact of the financial and additional services offered by Kiva Field Partners is; you guessed it, priceless.