by Julie Pachico, KF9 Mexico

I had the good fortune to visit the business of Kiva borrower Carmen Patricia Urquidez here in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. Carmen Patricia (or “Pati” as she likes to be called) runs a little stall in front of her home where she sells holiday-themed merchandise. Right now her store is filled with lovely Christmas decorations: bells, ornaments, trees, Santa hats, lights, and light-up frames of the Virgin de Guadalupe. She even makes beautiful handmade wreaths to hang over windows and doors.

Here’s a video (with subtitles) of Pati’s business, in which she gives us a little tour of her stall, shows us her handmade wreaths and talks about her Kiva loan. She also discusses her hopes and plans for the future of her business and her family, and sends a message of thanks to Kiva lenders. Click “more” to continue reading about Pati’s business and life!

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Showing us her handmade Christmas wreaths, made to hang over windows and doors.

This is Pati’s first loan with Fundación para La Vivienda Progresiva (FVP), Kiva’s partner microfinance institution here in Nuevo Laredo. She previously sold second-hand clothes for six years before taking out this loan in order to buy holiday-themed merchandise. She’s now selling Christmas items in accordance with the season, and once it’s February she plans to invest in Valentine’s Day products. Her business doesn’t have a name yet, but she’s thought of calling it Señora Pati’s, since that’s what everyone calls her. She joked that she thought about calling it “Los 3 Hermanos” (The Three Brothers, a large department store in Mexico) since she has three kids, but the store might sue her!

Even without a name, Pati’s hard work and vision has resulted in a very unique, eye-catching business that has been doing VERY well. There were a ton of customers coming and going while the loan officer and I were there, and we often had to pause the  interview so that Pati could make a sale! Pati seemed very grateful and happy with her loan, saying that without it, she wouldn’t have sold as much, as she didn’t have the available capital to purchase the merchandise herself. She’s gone on to reinvest the profits into her business, as well as using them to pay for her children’s school fees, groceries and other family expenses.

Like many people in this border city, Pati is originally from somewhere else, in her case Ciudad Obregón from the central Mexican state of Sonora. She’s lived in Nuevo Laredo for 14 years now, having moved here after getting married as her husband’s family lives here. She has three children, a boy and two girls, aged 15, 10, and 4 years old. When they’re not in school studying, her 15-year-old son helps her out at the store with sales, as does her daughter. She started out selling holiday-themed items when people walking by her house saw her handmade decorations in the windows and doors and asked if they were for sale. She also buys merchandise across the border in Laredo, Texas. Decorating is Pati’s passion, as she says in the video: “”me gusta mucho adornar, mucho mucho mucho!” (“I like to decorate a lot, a lot a lot a lot!”) She seemed so happy that she gets to do what she loves for a living now!

Apart from volunteering at her children’s school, Pati is also the “Jefe Sucesional” of the neighborhood, which I understand to be some sort of official representative. She said that her duties consisted of taking sick neighbors to the hospital or local government office so that she could help them get assistance.

I hope you enjoyed this little peek into a Kiva Borrower’s Christmas store. It was really inspiring to see how proud and happy she was with her business…  in a country that’s been hit so hard by the economic recession, it was a beautiful thing to see how microfinance can still offer people hope and opportunity.

Be sure to check out currently fundraising FVP entrepeneurs, join our lending team the FVP Incredibles and purchase a Kiva gift certificate for the holiday season!

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