A loan of $1,925 helped a member to buy fertilizer for her prickly pear crop.

San Nicolas Group's story

This communal bank is called San Nicolás and it is located in the village of Tlalnepantla, in the State of Morelos, Mexico. It has five female members who all know each other and are neighbors. The members are as follows: Guadalupe Ávila M., who will use her loan to buy organic fertilizer to fertilize her 'nopal' (prickly pear) crop; Leticia L. C., who will buy organic fertilizer to fertilize her prickly pear crop and improve her production; Marquelia R. Díaz, who will buy men's and women's perfume, cosmetics and cosmetic kits in order to stock her business; Herminia R. M., who will buy fruit such as custard apples, loquats and avocados, to stock her business, and Guadalupe R. Ávila, who will buy prickly pear stalks and fertilizer in bulk, in order to start her own production.

Guadalupe Ávila M. is the group's representative. She is 56 years old and studied up to the fifth year of elementary school. She is married and has five children: 1 daughter and 4 sons. Her sons are agricultural workers. Guadalupe's husband sells firewood. He goes out to the countryside and gathers firewood to sell. Guadalupe herself has a plot of land where she grows prickly pears. She has requested this loan to buy manure for her prickly pear crop so that she can produce more. She started this business 5 years ago. Previously, she used to grow corn and beans. She provided her children with some land and they also grow prickly pear cacti.

Guadalupe learned her business as a young child. Her father always used to grow prickly pear cacti and she and her siblings worked with him, weeding, removing the stalks and chopping. They would cover the chopped prickly pear with soil so that it served as fertilizer and they would remove the fleshy pads. These days, they hire a rototiller that chops the plants and removes weeds but it is expensive to hire.

Guadalupe bought the plot of land where she grows her prickly pear crop and her dad left her the house where she is currently living. Her plot of land is in the countryside. She either walks there or takes a taxi which leaves her on the edge of the road and she then walks to her plot of land. Her business is important and special to her because in good seasons, if they pay her well for her produce, she enjoys working on her crop. She feels proud when she receives good money for it. Guadalupe's customers are those who arrive first in their trucks to buy her produce. Those who arrive first and pay the most take the produce. She cuts her prickly pear to sell every week or two weeks.

The challenge that Guadalupe faces in her business is that during periods of cold weather, the cacti do not grow. Her business is very well known because people eat prickly pear every day with their meals and it also has healing effects. Guadalupe faces competition from other people who produce prickly pear but everyone is free to sell their product wherever they most like. Guadalupe re-invests some of the profits that she makes back into her business, investing in buying fertilizer for her next sowing season and she also buys food. Her children help her in the business. Her daughter and husband cut the cacti and her husband also carries the boxes of produce.

Tlalnepantla is a very pretty village. The countryside is very green and covered with prickly pear cacti. You can also see the nearby volcano. The climate is cold and temperate. Guadalupe's business has helped her family financially. When they don't have any money they go and cut some prickly pear to sell and then have enough to cover their food expenses or anything else they might need at home. Guadalupe would like to repair her home, laying floor tiles and painting it so that it looks nicer. Her plans and dreams are to enjoy a better life and to have money so that she can do more things. She would like to have another bedroom for her daughter's children as her daughter is a single mother and has two children. The improvements that Guadalupe would like to make for her children's future is to ensure that they have somewhere to live and for them to be content. She is very happy to be receiving this loan because it will help her a lot with her harvest. It will help her to produce more and she hopes to pay it back properly so that she can access more loans in the future.

The members of this group would like to say to Kiva and Fundación Realidad "We thank you for the loan that you are giving us because it will help us a lot. It will help our businesses and families to grow".

In this group: Guadalupe, Leticia, Marquelia, Herminia, Guadalupe

Translated from Spanish by Kiva volunteer Linda Oxnard

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