A loan of $2,475 helped a member to buy animals such as chickens, guinea pigs, pigs, animal feed and vitamins, as well as merchandise in order to increase their businesses.

Las Lucecitas (Cuenca) Group's story

The communal bank Las Lucecitas is made up of 7 members, who want to better themselves and have better opportunities in life. The majority of the members are from the neighborhood of Narancay from the Baños parish in the City of Cuenca. Baños is known for its hot springs that emanate from a volcano. There are festivals throughout the month of January with several activities such as dances and artist showcases and festivals featuring timbulo (a sweet tamale wrapped in corn leaf) and other foods. Few of the inhabitants work in agriculture because, for the most part, they work serving the large quantity of tourists who come to get to know this beautiful place.

The members tell their stories with characteristic friendliness. Señora María Natividad P. T. is a member of the Las Lucecitas bank. She lives in Narancay, some 15 minutes outside the City of Cuenca. She is 39 years old, married, and has 5 children, aged 18, 16, 14, 12, 1. Her older children study in the Manuel Córdova Galarza Technical College located in her parish. She and her family live in their own home, the fruits of the efforts of Señora María and her spouse. Her husband is a carpenter, and he is the best life partner, as well as the best example for their children. For 10 years María has worked in agriculture, raising chickens, guinea pigs, and pigs. The family consumes the majority of her output, and she sells a small amount in the free market in Cuenca, also selling chickens on foot, or plucked to acquaintances who buy in the house; she also sells them in the stores in her area.

This is her third loan cycle with the foundation and she is grateful because they have helped stabilize her economically because before she had to borrow from informal lenders at very high rates of interest. With the loan that the ESPOIR foundation is granting her, she will buy more chickens, guinea pigs, pigs, animal food and vitamins to continue to grow her business. Her goal is to eventually buy a car in order to increase her sales and collect more customers.

Señora María Cristina Mejía P. is a new member of the communal bank. Her mother-in-law is a member of the bank and invited her to become a member. She lives in the community of Guzho, some 15 minutes outside the City of Cuenca. She is 23 years old, has been married for 5 years, and has two children: a 4-year old and a 2-year old. Her husband is a driver in public transportation. Maria is starting with the business of raising chickens. She tells us that it is not too complicated, to obtain the desired earnings you just have to be attentive so that the animals do not lack food or water and have adequate shelter so that they do not die. This is her first credit with the ESPOIR foundation and she hopes to continue to take out loans so that she can improve her quality of life and that of her family. With this loan she will purchase more chickens, animal food and vitamins, and also she will use a part of the loan to finish her house. The goal of Maria is to finish her house with the loans that the foundation grants.

Señora Sindy Gissela Morán C. is another active member of the communal bank Las Lucecitas. She lives in the City of Cuenca, is eighteen years old, and is married. Although she has no children, she has a solid matrimonial relationship, telling us that in order to have a consistent relationship one must be friends above all and have excellent communication. Her husband is an electrician and they live in a rented home and would like to improve their economic situation. Sindy sells shoes, she has been involved in this activity for a year and it's going very well because she has a good supply of good quality shoes. She is an informal trader in the Cuenca free market, which runs daily. She works from 8am to 6pm and on weekends goes to the markets in Sigsig, Azogues, and Paute where she works from 5 a.m. to 6 p.m. This is her first loan, a friend convinced her to become part of the bank by telling her about the advantages that the foundation offers. With the loan she is requesting she will buy more merchandise and this way will have an increased inventory of shoes for women, men and children. Her dream is to have her own stall, so that she would not have to travel around the city to sell her goods.

In this group: Maria Dolores, Maria Cristina, Maria Natividad, Rosa Clotilde, Maria Guadalupe, Blanca Marlene, Cindy Gissela

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Translated from Spanish by Kiva volunteer Lisa Grobar

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