A loan of $3,700 helped a member purchase a fryer, plates, dough and jam.

La Gula Group's story

This communal bank is called “La Gula” and it is composed of 20 members from the city of Valparaíso. They dedicate themselves to many different kinds of businesses, like the sewing of pajamas and sweatshirts, dessert making, jewelry making, the sale and repair of eyeglasses, the sale of undergarments, the preparation and sale of breads and cakes, sculpting and auto repair.

Mónica, the group’s treasurer, is seen in the photo on the right-hand side, wearing a burgundy-colored jacket. Mónica works with her father in the business he has run for 30 years. Mónica is in charge of purchasing the ingredients to prepare sopaipillas (fried pastries), empanadas (stuffed savory pastries) and cakes.

With this loan, Mónica will purchase a fryer, because when they get a lot of orders for sopaipillas and empanadas, it takes a long time to fry them in a normal pan. She will also purchase aluminum plates, oil, and cheese in bulk, along with papaya jam and dough for the sopaipillas and empanadas.

Her dream is to incorporate new products into the business; for example, an ice cream machine as they do not currently have one and it would be a good investment for the summer months to take advantage of the businesses location. In general, she would like to grow the business.

Mónica’s motivation comes from her children. She has one son who is 20 and in his third year of university, studying electrical engineering, and she has a 15-year-old daughter who also wants to continue on to college after finishing high school. Her other daughter, who is 28, sells jewelry and is also part of the Fondo Esperanza communal bank.

Mónica very much enjoys attending the weekly meetings of their bank because it gives her a moment to share with her friends and a distraction from day-to-day activities.

Valparaíso is a city situated 120 kilometers to the northwest of Santiago, on the Chilean coast. It is the regional capital of "Region Five" and is the seat of the Chilean legislative government. Valparaíso is the nation's primary port, and in addition to a bustling economy, it offers a great variety of beautiful and picturesque places, like the home of Nobel Laureate, the poet Pablo Neruda.

In this group: Ana, María Angélica, Mónica, Doris, Andrea, Jeanette, Rodrigo, María Inés, María Inés, Leslie, José, María Gema, Claudio, Adelaida, Cecilia, Nancy, Evelyn, Eugenia, Ana María, Cecilia

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