A loan of $500 helped to buy more skirts to sell.

Zenobia's story

For nearly 20 years, Zenobia has been buying and selling a specific type traditional dress worn by the women in the region of Ayacucho, Perú. As one walks down a street in Ayacucho, it is very common to see the women wearing beautiful, brightly colored and intricately embroidered skirts. This skirt is called a “centro” and the slips that are worn underneath to add fullness are called “fustanes.” Zenobia has capitalized on the long standing popularity of these beautiful skirts and sells them to many clients in the area.

To obtain her supply of skirts, Zenobia travels to the nearby city of Huancayo, where the skirts are mass produced. These she brings to her stand in one of the markets just outside the city of Ayacucho to sell. Because the skirts are so finely detailed and of such high quality, they are very expensive. One skirt, she explains, sells for 400 Nuevo Soles, or about $130 USD. This is so prohibitively expensive for the majority of Zenobia’s, that many buy an outfit on credit or even pay her in food products, such as cereals instead of the Peruvian Nuevo Sol.

Zenobia explains that when she joined her village bank some 10 years earlier, she only had enough capital to request a loan of $50, an amount that doesn’t even come close to the purchase of a single skirt. Today, however, after much hard work and diligence, Zenobia is able to request a loan of $500. This growth, Zenobia explains, would not have been possible without the help from her village bank. Not only has it provided her with ample economic opportunities, it has also taught her how to be a confident female leader. All this has made the support of her 5 children and husband much easier. With the $500 she is requesting, Zenobia will be able to buy more skirts in Huancayo to sell in Ayacucho. She says she is constantly working toward her ultimate goal of opening her own store in downtown Ayacucho.

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