Give a man a chance - Don't forget about supporting male borrowers!
So we've all been there. At least I have. I'm starting up the Kiva website to go look for a new borrower to support. I might click on one of the pictures right on the homepage, because something catches my attention. A smile, an animal that snuck onto the image, a background that looks intriguing. But I'd quickly get on to the filters, and the first one I check is always the same: only show me loans of women borrowers. How discriminatory, right? So like I said, I'm guilty of the same crime, but instead of just arguing with gender equality, let me give you two good reasons to support a man's loan on Kiva: they are called Sebastian and Andres Rodrigo.
Sebastian sells furniture out of a small shop in a side street of Ybycui. He used to be employed at someone else's shop, but always wanted to be his own boss so he got started with a loan of about 100 Dollars. At the beginning he had 1 cupboard, 1 chair and 1 sofa chair, and then worked his way up to two full storage spaces. The kind of furniture he likes to sell are beds, because he can make two sales in one - the actual bed frame and the mattress! When asked about his wife, he did have to admit that he's very grateful for her help, as she takes care of the kids when he's out and about, buying different types of tables and cupboards all over the villages where they are typically produced, or making a delivery for a customer. He has used his last loan to buy a small truck, so he can do deliveries all by himself, and doesn’t have to buy a taxi driver for this. His plan is to keep growing, and to be able to employ a few people to help him out, for example by keeping the shop open and running, while he is out.
The other person I want to talk to you about is Andres Rodrigo.
His parents used to have 3 cows, and he has used the initial Kiva credit to buy 2 more. By now they have 13 cows that are currently producing milk, and 7 more that are young ones who will have their first calf soon, and start giving milk then. They are all sharing a shed just outside the village. Like on any good farm, they are accompanied by a few of their calves, some pigs, chickens, a rooster and of course some fierce watchdogs.
Also watchdogs need to rest some time, especially when it's pouring down, like when I was visiting.
The cows are milked twice a day, and he distributes the milk to a circle of loyal customers around the town. His customers buy about 2 litres of milk a day for their family, but he also sells to small bars and restaurants, which buy between 10 and 15 litres. For him, the most important part is to be responsible and professional and provide a constant service to his customers. So if for any reason, his cows don’t produce enough milk for his daily round, he buys milk from another farmer, to make sure he doesn’t fail his clients. He used to do his round with the motorcycle, but now has a car to bring the milk to their homes. This is obviously a lot easier, especially if the weather is bad. He's used his loans to buy that vehicle, as well as more cows. He also plants different crops like sugarcane and manioc. The cows eat the manioc as well as grass and some added cereal mix.
It was great to talk to these two borrowers, who obviously are making an effort each day to sustain and grow their business. They are obviously hard-working and responsible, and what I especially liked about them was their ambition. They’re not just satisfied with the status quo, but looking to improve and grow their business, and to provide employment to other people in their communities. So go ahead, do something crazy, have a look at these male borrowers on Kiva, or specifically in Paraguay and support a man today!